Recovery efforts fast-tracked on Richards Bay export coal line

The collision and derailment of two Transnet Freight Rail trains near KwaMbonambi caused operations to be halted on the export line.

Operations on the critical coal export line are expected to be fully restored by Saturday.

This follows the collision and derailment of two Transnet Freight Rail (TFR) trains near KwaMbonambi on Sunday.

TFR said, while the recovery efforts have been impacted by the persistent heavy rainfall in the region, they are targeting the removal of remaining debris.

“The rail service is expected to resume before midnight on Thursday on line 2, and on Saturday on line 1, subject to the weather conditions.

“TFR thanks industry for the swift response in providing major breakdown equipment to aid the recovery operation.

“The accident has been reported to the Railway Safety Regulator (RSR), while an internal investigation into the cause is ongoing. Staff involved in the collision have been given the all-clear following medical examination,” TFR said in a statement.

Calls to digitise TFR’s ‘obscure’ railway signalling system

The DA has made a direct call for the clear and transparent handling of the accident by TFR.

DA shadow minister of Public Enterprises Dr Mimmy Gondwe said it is imperative that TFR publicly releases the full accident report.

“Any prolonged delays will be detrimental to the business operations of major commodity exporters who rely on the affected export coal line to transport their commodities to port.

“This accident could easily have been avoided had TFR not been dragging its feet in relation to digitising its system for the tracking and scheduling of its freight rail.

“The impact of this latest accident now requires TFR to provide detailed reasons behind the delayed implementation of a digitised system for the tracking and scheduling of its freight rail despite a tender being issued in 2022 for such a system.

“It confounds reason that TFR still uses a manual system to track and schedule its freight rail, which is an obscure system that relies on signalling equipment and phone communication, and leaves ample room for human error.

“Transnet has been an albatross around the neck of our economy for some time now, from dysfunctional ports to a collapsing rail network.

“South Africa’s comatose economy cannot afford any more logistics shocks or crises, and this is precisely why we are calling for an urgent clearing of the affected part of the export coal line and the prompt restoration of operations,” she said.

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