State rail transport company Transnet said on Friday it would embark on a ten-day shutdown of its coal line for scheduled maintenance.

JOHANNESBURG - State rail transport company Transnet said on Friday it would embark on a ten day shutdown of its coal line for scheduled maintenance.

The shutdown, starting on July 2, will cover the entire coal line which has flows originating from the Ermelo, Vryheid, Richards Bay, Witbank, Ladysmith and Isando depots. 

"The shutdown is an annual scheduled maintenance that is carried out ... to ensure that the company catches up on maintenance backlog, replaces old, obsolete and problematic infrastructure as part of sustainability of the business, as well as to accelerate the major capital expansion/upgrade projects in line with the expected volume growth," Transnet said in a statement.

"The shutdown programme is also necessitated by the fact that on the coal line there are sections where infrastructure work cannot be carried out without stopping the entire train service."

It said the maintenance would result in Increased network reliability and availability and improved train transit times, among other benefits.

It will involve the replacement of 38,200 sleepers as well as rail replacement covering 13.728km, ballast screening, formation rehabilitation, as well as maintenance of train authorisation systems and condition assessment systems.

Transnet said a comprehensive safety, risk and environmental plan had been developed to mitigate injury and environmental damage.

The coal line is one of the largest in the world and serves exporters on the Mpumalanga – Richards Bay line.

- African News Agency (ANA)