Rovos Rail rely on Volvo Penta engines in Africa

Rovos Rail is a company that offers luxury train “journeys of distinction” through Africa in style and comfort. The wood-panelled coaches are refurbished and remodelled to peak condition and offer all the luxury amenities of a 5 star hotel establishment.
Behind the glamour, Volvo Penta engines are hard at work in the Power Car providing the necessary electrical power to run the soft lighting, air conditioning, under floor heating, hot showers and other power driven services to ensure the pleasure of the passengers.

The relationship with Volvo Penta has been on-going for more than a decade, with the first engines going into operation in 1999. The configuration for the Power Cars in which the generator sets are located is typically one carriage with one Prime Unit and a second back-up unit installed. The one genset will run continuously but should problems be experienced then Rovos Rail engineers have the option to switch over and the comfort of the passengers is not compromised.

There are five such Power Cars in the Rovos fleet and as Maintenance Manager, Coenie van der Walt explained, “All stock is running and we have very few problems.” The latest model TAD734GE offers 250 KVA (Prime power) and is capable of running the auxiliary services for the whole train. Coenie confirms that the Volvo Penta engines are reliable and fuel efficient, “We have calculated up to 20% fuel consumption savings with these units,” he comments.

These engines are expected to run for 23 000 hours before they may need overhauling or repair. This equates to more than 2½ years of continuous running time. Coenie works closely with General Manager for Volvo Penta, Rudi Jones, on all sales, parts and service issues. The Volvo network of dealerships are situated on many of the routes flowed by the Rovos Rail trains.

Rovos Rail has carved a firm foundation in the local and global luxury travel market. Volvo Penta provides the engines designed to offer reliable and cost effective power supply behind the scenes of this demanding operation.


L to R, Rudi Jones, General Manager, Volvo Penta, South Africa; Rohan Vos, owner of Rovos Rail; Anders Lindblad, President Volvo Area Southern Africa

Photos by Brett Eloff