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Freight To Rail Essay

3508 words - 15 pages


In many countries worldwide, more than 80% of freight is carried by road.

Name: Leonora Oosthuizen
Student number: 200840019
Name: Jaco Vermeulen
Student number: 200833620
Name: Linda Gunther
Student number: 200624338


1. Why is such a greater proportion of freight carried by road? 3

2. Identify and discuss the advantages of moving freight by rail. 9

3. In respect of South Africa, how can Government influence freight
modal split in favour of rail? 12

4. References 16

(i) Why is such a greater proportion of freight carried by road?

It is a well-known fact ...view middle of the document...

The insufficient rail capacity has led to a higher demand for road based transport, which has resulted in vast deterioration of the road network. Further underlying issues are the mandates of Transnet (and TFR), which should have been aligned with the overall goals and needs of the country.

The Department of Transport is responsible to provide South Africans with an optimal enabling transport environment and should urgently initiate a process of moving road to rail transport to bring about a cost efficient and competitive transport industry. This can only be achieved by closely coordinated transport plans.

Another factor that currently influences the road-rail relationship is the rail-port linkages which are a burning issue. The importance of our country’s ports is highlighted by the fact that approximately 96% of South Africa’s exports are conveyed by sea. In order to attract world trade, Durban’s position in relation to the N3, and its high throughput volumes, make it a suitable candidate for the establishment of a “mega-port”.

The Johannesburg to Durban corridor has already reached capacity and will have a 21million ton excess capacity problem in 2017 if something is not done to alleviate the congestion. Although the Department of Transport in conjunction with Transnet are currently devising plans to upgrade various rail lines which are required to export mineral commodities, increased focus should be placed on the importance of improved operations on the Johannesburg – Durban freight line corridor. Johannesburg is the economic hub of South Africa and Durban is known as South Africa’s primary port, thus increased investment to improve operations between these two cities is vital.

The dominance of road freight is a given fact and the key question is what else needs to be done to shift bulk transportation demand to rail? Transnet is the main contender who has to continuously conduct extensive research and ensure public engagement to plan for future freight transport capacity requirements. Some of this research has been consolidated into the Transnet National Infrastructure Plan, which forms an important part of a national planning process. However, spending money does not guarantee results. The perceptions of poor service quality and unreliability have led customers to switch to alternative modes of transport and investment needs to be sufficient to cover the costs of maintenance, extension and replacement of old and outdated rail inventory as the average age of the current rail fleet is 30 to 40 years, with the maximum life span being 46 years and 51% of the rail fleet is soon to be retired (Montana, 2011).

These realities and the fact that the last significant railway construction project was undertaken in the mid-1980, it must be acknowledged that the fleet, infrastructure and operations elements of the freight rail system are not able to meet demand, in a safe
and efficient way. These old trains, signaling and...

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