On the Bulawayo Mafeking line, steam trains were used until a few years ago.
These trains could go only so far with the water they carried in the tender so there were water points along the way at certain stations.
One such station was Seruli where I was stationed early in my career on the railways.
Water for Seruli also had to be transported from another station by rail tanker.
In order to have the tankers filled a train could carry the 3 water tankers overweight.
The train was stopped at the points, the engine cut off and diverted onto the loop and past the tankers, and them push the tanks back onto the load.
I stopped the train at the points and informed the driver to pick up the tanks, cut the engine off and jumped onto the steps of the engine as it came past me.
The train was going to go onto the loop, as it was to cross the mail train at my station.
As I put my foot on the step of the engine it slipped off and I took a tumble.
Fortunately I kept my arms next to my body as I fell and the engine missed me by inches, but I was covered from head to foot in the muck that falls off the train next to the line.
“OK” shouted the driver, “We will carry on and pull into the loop ourselves”.
I rushed to my room and scrubbed myself, got dressed in clean uniform and was in time to hand orders to the driver and guard of the mail train.
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