SA, Swaziland in major rail investment

13 January 2012

South African logistics group Transnet and Swaziland Railways have agreed to jointly develop a 146-kilometre railway line from Lothair in Mpumalanga to Sidvokodvo Junction in Swaziland, as well as upgrade the adjacent railway networks in both countries.

According to a Business Day article on Friday, the R17-billion project will be the biggest railway investment in southern Africa since 1976.

The cost of building the main “Swazilink” railway line would be R7.3-billion, Business Day reported, with R8.6-billion to be spent on 600 kilometres of adjacent lines. Swaziland will be responsible for providing about R5-billion of the investment amount.

Once completed, the new rail line is expected to create additional capacity of 15-million tons, which will predominantly be general freight volumes from the existing coal export rail line.

“This is the first large-scale rail investment in Southern Africa since the construction of the Richards Bay line in 1976,” Transnet CEO Brian Molefe said in a statement this week.

He added that the investment was complementary to the company’s other large coal investments, still to be rolled out, including the Waterberg line and Eskom’s road-to-rail migration programme.

Global rail renaissance

Molefe said that globally, rail infrastructure was undergoing a major renaissance as an investment and a vehicle to uplift citizens in an environmentally friendly and cost-effective manner.

“We are proud to be part of this revolution,” he said. “As Transnet we have already done a high-level risk assessment to identify the strategic, planning, financial, construction and environmental risks to ensure that this great multi-infrastructural project sees its day.”

He said the company expected the first train to run in three years’ time after the necessary land purchase agreements and environmental approvals had been resolved.

SAinfo reporter

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