Transnet to train railway service to run on schedule

Transnet says it is rolling out a scheduled railway service that will stick to strict timetables, replacing its current system in which trains only depart when they are loaded.

Transnet plays a key role in Africa’s largest economy, moving crucial coal exports to the Richards Bay Coal Terminal for movement to growing Asian markets.

“Given the fact that Transnet Freight Rail is running without much excess capacity, better planning and scheduling tools are needed to effectively manage the scarce resources, in order to cope with the rapidly increasing demand for railway transportation,” the company said in a statement.

Spokesperson Sandile Simelane said the group was aiming to have the schedule in place across the board by the middle of next year but it has launched fixed scheduling for four corridors: Phalaborwa/Maputo & Richards Bay for magnetite, Welgedag/Palmford for Majuba Coal, Uitkyk/Komatiepoort for TCM Coal and Phalaborwa/Richards Bay for rock phosphate.

The current system, known as “tonnage-based dispatching”, was aimed at minimising the total number of trains needed by maximising their size but Transnet said “in practice it disrupted the efficient utilisation of crews, locomotives, and equipment”.

Simelane said the new system would be run like an airline, where customers have to be on time or else the plane leaves without them.

Transnet said in October it has been moving coal to the Richards Bay Coal Terminal at record rates in recent months, showing the market that it may be turning the corner and reversing years of underperforming infrastructure. — Reuters

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