Swazilink: Project to build SA to Swaziland railway

For discussions on stations, signals, and infrastructure in Southern Africa. Any photos should be posted in the "South Africa - Photo Gallery" Forum below.
Post Reply
User avatar
Steve Appleton
Site Admin
Posts: 3599
Joined: 23 Jan 2007, 14:14
Location: Johannesburg, South Africa

Swazilink: Project to build SA to Swaziland railway

Post by Steve Appleton »

From Business Day, 13 January 2012. http://www.businessday.co.za/articles/C ... ?id=162526
Transnet, Swaziland to invest R 17bn in railway line

South Africa and Swaziland will invest R17bn building a "Swazilink" railway line which would increase rail capacity for general freight and coal exports, and will also be the largest rail project undertaken in Southern Africa since 1976.

NICKY SMITH
Published: 2012/01/13 07:17:22 AM

SA and Swaziland will invest R 17bn building a "Swazilink" railway line which would increase rail capacity for general freight and coal exports, and will also be the largest rail project undertaken in Southern Africa since 1976. Under the investment programme, a new R 7.3bn single-line covering 146 km would be built by Transnet and concurrent investments worth R 8.6bn would be made to upgrade and strengthen about 600 km of adjacent railways, Transnet said yesterday.

The new line will join Lothair in Mpumalanga with Sidvokodvo in Swaziland and free up capacity on Transnet’s network, allowing it to move additional coal to Richards Bay Coal Terminal.

In the past few years SA’s coal exports have been constrained by a lack of rail capacity between the coal-producing regions and the terminal in Richards Bay, which has a design capacity of 91-million tonnes a year. Transnet has delivered a patchy service with tonnages fluctuating between 62-million tonnes and 68-million tonnes in the past seven years.

Transnet Freight Rail’s chief operating officer, Mlamuli Buthelezi, said that in its first phase, the line would accommodate eight trains a day and would have a capacity of 15-million tonnes a year. A second phase would increase capacity to 35-million tonnes a year.

The investment was expected to unlock the logjam being experienced in Ermelo, said Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba, who was also at the announcement ceremony in Sandton, Johannesburg. The announcement was further evidence of SA’s ambitions to hasten infrastructure development. It comes in the same week as Transnet’s acquisition of 43 General Electric (GE) locomotives in addition to its existing programme to buy 100 GE engines.

The Swazilink was part of Transnet’s broader rail investment plans and was needed to support other new rail links between the coalfields in the Waterberg with ports on the east coast, Mr Gigaba said. The anticipated Waterberg rail investment "will not succeed" unless congestion in Ermelo is addressed, he said.

Mr Buthelezi said announcements on the Waterberg rail link were expected soon, but declined to comment further on the scope of the project.

Transnet Group CEO Brian Molefe said he expected the first train to run within three years after the conclusion of land purchase agreements and environmental approvals. According to an indicative project schedule, phase one runs from 2011 to 2016. This year will be used to plan and finalise costing and feasibility. Construction is scheduled to run between 2013 and 2016. "When this line is commissioned in three years’ time we will have a significant increase of capacity on our coal line," Mr Molefe said. Investments in new lines and the upgrade of the existing network will take capacity beyond 91-million tonnes and "close to 100-million tonnes", he said.

Swaziland Railway CEO Gideon Mahlalela said his country had wanted to create a western link with SA since 1882. Swaziland will be responsible for about R 5bn of the investment required for the Swazilink line.
"To train or not to train, that is the question"
User avatar
John Ashworth
Site Admin
Posts: 22243
Joined: 24 Jan 2007, 14:38
Location: Nairobi, Kenya
Contact:

Re: Swazilink: Project to build SA to Swaziland railway

Post by John Ashworth »

This project involves both Swaziland and South Africa, and I find it interesting that Steve and I chose to put articles on this same topic into different sub-fora of the FOTR forum. I saw it as a story primarily about Swaziland and thus put it under "Rest of Africa", while Steve has chosen to put it under "South Africa".

See http://www.friendsoftherail.com/phpBB2/ ... =27&t=9054 for the other article.
Image
User avatar
Steve Appleton
Site Admin
Posts: 3599
Joined: 23 Jan 2007, 14:14
Location: Johannesburg, South Africa

Re: Swazilink: Project to build SA to Swaziland railway

Post by Steve Appleton »

Hi John, good point.

Although this link will obviously benefit Swaziland by a) providing a direct westwards rail link into Gauteng and the highveld, and b) adding to Swaziland's infrastructure, providing employment and revenue, the prime reason for building the link is to provide much-needed additional capacity for bulk coal exports from South Africa. The intention is to divert most, if not all, general freight traffic currently running over the existing Coalex line to Richards Bay onto the new route, freeing up slots on the Coalex line to use for additional coal traffic. SA is providing the lion's share of the capital and expertise and will unquestionably benefit most. I suspect that the prime initiators were Transnet and the SA Government. Swaziland imports and exports could hardly justify such an expensive railway development now, if ever.

Hence I see it primarily as a South African project. Besides, their King excepted, Swaziland is economically almost a part of SA.
"To train or not to train, that is the question"
User avatar
John Ashworth
Site Admin
Posts: 22243
Joined: 24 Jan 2007, 14:38
Location: Nairobi, Kenya
Contact:

Re: Swazilink: Project to build SA to Swaziland railway

Post by John Ashworth »

Fair comment, Steve. I was just pondering idly!
Image
Post Reply

Return to “South Africa - Stations, Signals and Infrastructure”