Coal deliveries due to resume after North Corridor lines repaired, says Transnet

COAL deliveries on Transnet Freight Rail’s (TFR’s) North Corridor route were due to resume after damaged lines were repaired over the weekend, the state-owned rail and ports operator said on Monday.

“The focus will now be on clearing the staged trains and the backlog on the line following which normal operations can commence,” it said. TFR is Transnet’s largest division.

The first of two lines was brought back into operation on Friday followed by the second on Saturday, a day ahead of schedule, TFR said. This followed repair work on the route between Bloubank and Nhlazatshe station where a train derailment occurred on November 8.

TFR said today the event caused “massive damage” to the rail infrastructure and rolling stock. A total of 97 trains were derailed.

It is still unclear the extent to which the derailment will affect TFR’s target to deliver 60 million tons (Mt) of coal to its ports in the year ended March 2023.

Transnet said in October it “remained resolute” in its commiment to rail the coal despite a two-week strike in which deliveries of the fuel ground to a standstill.

“We have not revised the 60Mt,” said Ali Motala, managing executive for the North Corridor at TFR (Transnet Freight Rail) at the time. As per its contract terms with customers, TFR grades its performance from April to March 2023.

The Minerals Council calculated that including the effects of a recent strike, as well as Transnet logjams, the country would suffer annualised revenue losses of R50bn this year, 43% more than R35bn last year. This covers losses on revenue of iron ore, coal, chrome, ferrochrome and manganese exports.

It said that R151bn could be gained in additional exports, with the concomitant benefits of employment in mining increasing by 40,000 jobs to 500,000, the fiscus benefiting from improved tax revenue and higher revenues for Transnet if all rail and ports systems were optimally and efficiently run at design capacity.