Transnet Freight Rail is introducing a new 200 wagon train service on its export coal line that will run directly from the Richards Bay Coal Terminal to the mines in Mpumalanga.This will give the company the capability to exceed 81 million tons per annum in the next financial year, should the coal be available. The new service, called Project Shongololo (millipede), entails bypassing the Ermelo yard leg of the service, which will significantly reduce train handling processes. Commenting on the initiative, TFR Chief Executive, Siyabonga Gama, said this service will drastically reduce cycle times from an average of 58 to 41 hours for locomotives and for wagons a decrease from 63 to 48 hours. “Decreasing the handling processes of trains will allow for higher reliability which will equate to improved sustainability and service predictability. This is part of the scheduled railway philosophy introduced by TFR two years ago”. Prior to the introduction of the service, trains were built at the Ermelo yard through a process involving dispatching 100 empty wagons to the mines for loading and then returned to the Ermelo yard to be built into 200 wagon trains, which are then forwarded to RBCT. This process was cumbersome, involving significant train handling and shunting to couple and de-couple wagons. Project Manager, Pragasen Pillay, said “The service will increase weekly railed export coal capacity from the current 1.4 Million tons (Mt) per week to a potential capacity 1.85Mt per week, equating to a 30% increase on current capacity. The number of export coal trains per day will increase from 25 to a potential 32 trains. And moving into the fourth quarter of this year we will see 34 trains per day”.
“This will give confidence and guarantee the delivery of 1.7Mt tons per week. As TFR ramps up in the fourth quarter, this capacity will increase to 1.95Mt per week. This will enable the Company to provide capacity to emerging miners.”Transnet Freight Rail, will now be poised to deliver for the coal sector, both domestic and export, in excess of 2 million tons per week – an annualised delivery of 96 million tons. The service will additionally free up train slots which can be utilised to address other domestic demands, such as coal for Eskom Majuba Power Station. Customers can now increase production by making investments to ramp up efficiencies in their operations because of the increased capacity available to them.