University of Johannesburg’s Professor Jackie Walter, who heads the department of transport and supply chain management, says a new freight railway between Durban and Gauteng is needed “much more than a high-speed passenger service”. He was speaking on 4 October at the Transport Forum held at the university. “A largely seamless” availability of personal movement exists already – the roads between Durban and Johannesburg are good and air travel is “affordable,” Walters pointed out. Proposals for a high-speed passenger line “from some corners of government” are inspired by international trends, he said, but fail to prioritise the current needs of the South African economy.
Walters quoted statistics demonstrating that the number of trucks on the N3 highway exceeds the number of cars for 21 hours out of 24. He advocated the provision of a new standard gauge railway dedicated to freight, capable of conveying double-stacked containers.
Gauteng 25-year integrated transport master plan project leader Jack van der Merwe, in his address at the Forum, said planned Durban harbour expansions could result in container traffic to Gauteng increasing from 1.75 million annually at present to as much as 10 million.