The project will maximise the manganese volumes railed between mines in Hotazel via Sishen to Saldanha
THE LONGEST production train in the world recently took off from Sishen in the Northern Cape.
Transnet Freight Rail (TFR) has added another feather to its cap after successfully running a 375-wagon manganese train over a distance of 861 kilometres – making it the longest production train in the world.
The feat took place last month when the four-kilometre long train took off from Sishen in the Northern Cape to Saldanha in the Western Cape.
The 375-wagon train is the highest number of wagons fitted on a train in the world, breaking TFR’s own record 342-wagon iron ore train that is currently operational on the same Transnet corridor.
Lloyd Tobias, TFR chief operating officer, said the long-haul operation was in line with TFR’s business objective of migrating traffic from road to rail.
TFR said the project will maximise the manganese volumes railed between mines in Hotazel via Sishen to Saldanha.
This will be achieved by optimising the use of existing assets, locomotives and wagons, within the installed infrastructure constraints, doing more with what is currently available.
General manager for the Iron Ore and Manganese Business Unit, Russell Baatjies, said that there was an option of increasing manganese’s 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,” he said.
Following the successful execution of the test train, Transnet will embark on a journey to operationalise the four-kilometre long train, which is meant to meet the needs of manganese customers within the Hotazel area and the emerging miners. This phase will include further customer engagements and official launch of the train.
Brian Monakali, TFR general manager, who is also the chairman of the International Heavy Haul Association, said: “This is another breakthrough for the heavy haul railway industry. Rio Tinto, Australia, recently started with the implementation of driverless trains in their iron ore railway system. Transnet has now successfully tested a 375-wagon train, soon to be operationalised. 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 application of breakthrough technology”.
“Once in operation, the 375-wagon manganese train will be the 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. These longer trains represent an opportunity to increase volumes railed and drive the strategic imperative of moving bulk traffic back to rail,” TFR said.
– Norma Wildenboer