Transnet has unveiled a new fleet of rail automotive wagons that are expected to boost freight logistics in the Eastern Cape region. The launch of the company’s newly designed rail wagons for vehicle manufacturers, as the State-owned company accelerates its efforts to boost South African manufacturing and advance its multimodal road-to-rail freight strategy.
The launch of the wagons comes after government announced in 2012 that Transnet would spend over R300 billion to expand the country’s infrastructure. It was also announced that Transnet will invest R26 billion in freight infrastructure projects in the Eastern Cape over the next three years.
The old wagons, which had open sides, exposed transported cars to paint and body damage and were a security risk. Transnet has been operating a fleet of car carrier wagons for many years, but these units have become outdated as industry requirements have changed. The dimensions of vehicles have also changed over the years. The old wagons could not accommodate higher profile SUV type vehicles and minibuses. Transnet is therefore moving with the times.
The wagons, which were designed, engineered and manufactured at Transnet Engineering’s wagons facility in Uitenhage, were built to the exact specifications of vehicle original-equipment manufacturers, and formed part of Transnet’s R307 billion rolling seven-year infrastructure improvement programme – the Market Demand Strategy.
The new wagons, which were described by the parastatal as a “significant improvement” on the original models, were larger than the conventional wagons, which would enable the new vehicle carrier to transport small passenger vehicles as well as special utility vehicles and minibuses.
The carrier also offered internal lighting, which made it possible to load the wagons continuously over 24 hours.
Of the 350 wagons, 229 had thus far been completed and were operational on the route between Kaalfontein, Johannesburg, Port Elizabeth and Durban. The last wagon is expected to roll out of the factory by the end of January 2014.
Transnet noted that the additional wagons had enabled it to operate longer trains, increasing the number of freight wagons from about 25 to 45.
At the launch it was announced that the purpose-built wagons would contribute positively to government’s campaign to promote the diversion of goods from road to rail to protect the country’s road networks and promote efficiency.
The Eastern Cape and the Port Elizabeth–Uitenhage area are high priority locations for government support, owing to the existence of the Eastern Cape automotive cluster, which is one of the most important drivers of growth in this region.