Record-breaking manganese ore train sets off on Sishen – Saldanha corridor

Transnet Freight Rail last week ran a train measuring 375 wagons in length (or 4 kilometers) on the Saldanha corridor from the mining area of the Northern Cape to the port at Saldanha.

The train ran the entire distance of the line, 861 kilometres, and following its success will now become a production train that goes into regular service.

The testing took place on 5 September 2018 between Sishen and the port at Saldanha with the train carrying a full load of manganese ore for export. The existing trains in the corridor consist of 342 wagons, measures 3,780 metres and carry weights of 42,000 tonnes. They carry cargo to the port that generally consists of iron ore or manganese.

“This is in line with TFR’s business objective of applying the heavy haul operating, maintenance, design, construction and best practice principles on general freight operations, and Transnet’s strategy of migrating traffic from road to rail,” said, TFR Chief Operating Officer (COO) Mr Lloyd Tobias.

The reason for further ramping up the size and length of the manganese trains is to maximise manganese volumes railed between the mines near Hotazel via Sishen to Saldanha by optimising the use of existing assets, locomotives and wagons, all within the installed infrastructure constraints.

According to TFR’s General Manager for the Iron Ore and Manganese Business Unit, Mr Russell Baatjies, there was an option of increasing manganese rail capacity to respond to customer demand by upgrading the existing railway feeder lines and build new rolling stock. “That option would have cost us significant capital.

The project team was challenged to explore the use of technology through Industry 4.0 solutions, to achieve the same objective at minimum cost. Applying distributed power technology to increase the train length to 375 wagons will reduce capital requirements by over 90% of the initial estimate.” Transnet said earlier that following the successful execution of the test train, it will embark on a journey to operationalise the 4-kilometre long train, which is meant to meet the needs of manganese customers within the Hotazel area and the emerging miners.

Source: Africa PORTS & SHIPS Maritime News