Transnet Freight Rail (TFR) has successfully run a 375-wagon manganese train over a distance of 861 km from Sishen to Saldanha Bay.
This formed part of the testing of the 4-km-long train, which will, once in operation, be a production train with the highest number of wagons in the world, and the longest manganese train in the world, with the highest volumes carried per train as well.
This project 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.
The project will maximise the manganese volumes railed between the mines in Hozatel through Sishen to Saldanha.
TFR iron-ore and manganese business unit GM Russel Baatjies explained that there was an option of increasing TFR’s manganese rail capacity to respond to customer demand by upgrading the existing railway feeder lines and building 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.
“This is another breakthrough for the heavy haul railway industry.
Rio Tinto, in Australia, recently started with the implementation of driverless trains on its iron-ore railway system.
“The collaboration on technical research and sharing of best practice by heavy haul operations worldwide will surely keep pushing the operations, safety and rail capacity envelope to new levels through the application of breakthrough technology,” commented International Heavy Haul Association chairperson and TFR GM Brian Monakali.