Transnet Reduces Truck Congestion in Richards Bay

Transnet’s Freight Rail (TFR) has ramped GF coal trains from 21 trains a week to 28, supported by an injection of locomotives. This is part of Transnet’s Recovery Plan initiatives and a commitment made to the City of uMhlathuze leadership and other stakeholders during the Stakeholder Collaboration on Truck Congestion Solutions meeting held in the Port of Richards Bay, in KwaZulu-Natal, on 21 November 2023.

The main objective of the ramp-up was to reduce truck loads and migrate volume from road to rail. All Transnet customers who were road hauling to the port of Richards Bay at the time were identified and approached directly to indicate interest in participating in a test train service.

Further, the intention of the test was to enable Transnet and the customers to assess train loading capabilities and rail friendliness of their cargo for each of the parties that were road hauling to the port. The test focused on the following areas:

  • Siding capabilities and readiness
  • Cargo suitability for rail loading
  • Status of the network
  • Train handling times
  • Train turnaround times, etc.

“As of 31 March 2024, the test train initiative had seen TFR moving 106,000 tons from Road to Rail while removing approximately 3,100 truckloads from the roads (6,200 truck movements, including the empty leg),” says Theo Johnson, Acting Managing Executive on the North Corridor.

“To date, seven customers, most of whom were 100% on road before, have been tested. The process to test the remaining customers is ongoing, subject to available capacity on a week-by-week basis,” added Johnson.

The test train initiative was offered with a clear proviso that it does not constitute a commitment for rail capacity in the long term, as there are structured ongoing processes for capacity allocation, added Johnson.

The ramp-up is the latest positive development after the coal export conveyor belt, which had been out of service for two years due to fire damage, came back into full operation at Richards Bay terminals, according to Transnet Port Terminals (TPT). Commissioned at the end of December after rigorous tests were carried out successfully, it has taken over 400 trucks off the road. This belt was among three that were gutted by fire in October 2021. The 2.2 km long conveyor belt has an output of more than three million tons per year. Procurement processes to repair the remaining two are at an advanced stage.

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