Minister of Economic Opportunities, Alan Winde, formally inaugurated the Franschhoek Wine Tram on 7 December 2017 at the historic Groot Drakenstein Station.
Minister Winde was joined at the ribbon-cutting ceremony by his deputy director general Rashid Toefy, the head of the Department of Economic Development and Tourism, Solly Fourie, the owners of the Franschhoek Wine Tram, David and Debbie Blyth, along with selected guests and media.
Wine Tram general manager Brett Garner treated guests to a sampling of the tram route through the Franschhoek vineyards – normally a full-day hop-on, hop-off tour comprising 22 estates – stopping by Vrede en Lust and Plaisir De Merle for guided tastings and welcome reprieve from the heat. En route, Minister Winde praised the Wine Tram’s contribution to the local tourism sector, which grew by 27% year-on-year.
The new double deck railway tram comfortably seats 78 passengers, enabling the Wine Tram to host more than 120 000 guests during the upcoming 2017/2018 tourist season. Towering five metres high, with open sides, the tram offers tourists an exceptional 360-degree view of the scenic Franschhoek valley. Also accompanying the tram are two flagmen, who disembark at road crossings to wave down traffic so that the tram can pass safely – a system which according to Mr Garner is not found anywhere else in the world.