Transnet Freight Rail undertakes recovery efforts after trains collide

Richards Bay Coal Terminal. File

Richards Bay Coal Terminal. File

Published Jan 16, 2024


Transnet Freight Rail (TFR), a division of state-owned logistics firm Transnet, yesterday confirmed that recovery efforts were under way.

This follows a derailment in which two trains collided in the early hours of Sunday at Elubana, near Richards Bay, KwaZulu-Natal North Coast, which is home to South Africa’s main coal export terminal.

It is another blow to coal volumes and mining companies using the rail line. The industry has seen billions of rand lost in potential export revenue amid TFR problems.

“TFR teams were dispatched to the scene immediately and recovery efforts began in earnest. No serious injuries have been reported, and staff involved in the collision were sent for medical observation,” it said.

Environmental teams were also at the scene to ensure compliance in the recovery and clean-up operations.

It said an investigation was under way to determine the cause of the accident.

The latest set back to TFR comes as Transnet battles cable theft and not enough locomotives, which has impeded its performance.

TFR faces structural reforms this year after the government in December gave the green light to the long-awaited road map and adopted the framework for private sector participation in the railway network.

The Cabinet, in its last meeting for the year, considered and approved for publication the Freight Logistics Roadmap, as well as the Draft Rail Private Sector Participation Framework.

The Freight Logistics Roadmap outlined a clear path to address immediate challenges in the logistics system and also sought to reform the system in the long term.

Its immediate priority was to stabilise and improve the operational performance of the freight rail network, which has severely constrained exports.

Rail safety problems are bedevilling South Africa.

The 2022/23 Annual State of Safety Report, which is produced by the Railway Safety Regulator (RSR) and was released in October, reported on by Business Report, revealed that South African railways experienced 10 746 negative events in the past year, encompassing 1 833 safety-related operational occurrences and 8 643 security-related incidents.

This system includes railways used by TFR, Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa and the Gautrain Management Agency.