Transnet locomotives arrive ahead of schedule

Pretoria – Transnet Freight Rail (TFR) has taken delivery of two new dual voltage electric Class 20E locomotives – a month ahead of schedule.

TFR on Monday received the first consignment of the locomotives, which it procured from Chinese manufacturer, China South Rail Zhuzhou Electric Locomotive (CSR ZELC).

The two locomotives are part of the five electric locomotives to be deployed in Transnet’s General Freight Business, with an additional four locomotives expected to arrive before the end of December this year.

The locomotives, however, will undergo rigorous testing before their placement onto the rail network.

Last October, CSR Zhuzhou Electric Locomotive successfully bid to supply the locomotives.

Ten (including the two in TFR’s possession) of the 95 locomotives will be made in CSR’s factories in China. The remainder of the fleet will be assembled in SA by Transnet Engineering.

TFR chief executive Siyabonga Gama said the purchase of the locomotives formed part of Transnet’s long-term fleet renewal programme to increase capacity, while improving the average age of its fleet.

“This is in an effort to deliver on the stringent requirements of the Market Demand Strategy (MDS), in which Transnet Freight Rail is expected to grow its volumes from the current 207 million tonnes per annum to over 350 million tonnes in just six years,” said Gama.

The new fleet, which boasts modern technology such as Radio Frequency Distributed Power (RFDP), will benefit the manganese line boosting the existing fleet.

“They will boost the existing fleet on the line so as to handle the projected increasing demand in manganese exports, as TFR expands capacity on the manganese line from 7-m tonnes to 16-m tonnes over the next six years,” said Gama.

He said the complete process from “order to delivery”, including prototype testing and approval, took place over a period of less than 12 months – which is a phenomenal achievement when considering that the agreement was only signed last year. Typically, locomotive original equipment manufacturers take between 18 – 24 months to reach such a milestone.

The locomotives are energy efficient, using less power on TFR’s DC drive technology and they have longer maintenance cycles of 90 – 120 days, compared to the current 36 – 60 days.

The locomotives are also able to regenerate power back into the Eskom generated power grid, which could be re-used.

TFR owns and maintains a network of over 20 500 route kilometres. –

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My ethos is espoused in the words of Nelson Mandela: “I have fought against white domination and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the idea of a democratic and free society. If need be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

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