business|coal|copper|export|financial|freight|locomotives|rail|resources|safety|security|service|supply chain|system|transnet|transport|solutions|infrastructure|locomotive|operations

New Mpumalanga siding enables TFR to maximise coal line throughput

Image of the Pullenshope Siding

MEETING NEEDS The capacity enhancement at Pullenshope, which is managed and operated by Barberry, is a game changer, as it tackles the two major bottlenecks facing TFR

26th November 2021

By: Natasha Odendaal

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor


Font size: - +

Rail supply chain solutions company Barberry Holdings has successfully launched its new multiuser Pullenshope Siding facility aimed at mitigating two key areas currently constraining Transnet Freight Rail’s (TFR’s) capacity.

The R100-million facility is designed to enable a 200-wagon train from the Richards Bay Coal Terminal (RBCT), in KwaZulu-Natal, to travel directly to the Pullenshope Siding, in Mpumalanga, without having to split the wagons at the TFR Ermelo yard two hours away.

Barberry broke ground on the facility in April and received approval from the Rail Safety Regulator in August before commissioning the 2.5 km line in October, with a 1.3 km siding lip for the loading of a 200-wagon test train in collaboration with TFR.

The capacity enhancement at Pullenshope, which is managed and operated by Barberry, says CEO Anand Moodliar, is a game changer, as it tackles the two major bottlenecks facing TFR: a shortage of locomotives and the disruption on the network caused by a surge in copper wire theft, which halts operations.

“The rail system has two major challenges that have affected daily performance, which then translates into yearly performance, especially on this high-density section to the RBCT. It is currently constrained by locomotive shortages and network disruptions, owing to copper wire theft,” he says.

Transnet hauls about 20-million tonnes annualised fewer than the 81-million tonnes a year it should be doing if it were to consistently perform at the TFR contracted capacity to RBCT, which is designed to transport 200-wagon trains along the 600 km route from Richards Bay to Ermelo every day.

The Pullenshope Siding is located on a 26 t axle line and is capable of loading jumbo trains of 8 400 t. This will enable TFR to maximise its network rather than loading on the 20 t axle line which can only load to a maximum of 6 000 t a train.

“The impact of the bottlenecks is that Transnet, over the last year, operated at an average of 21 trains a day, which translates to shipments of sub-60-million tonnes, against the contracted 81-million tonnes committed to the industry, which is more than 20-million tonnes short of the volumes that mines were built around.”

This has led to a significant impact on the share price of many majors, as they are unable to transport all the contracted coal, leaving the companies unable to reach revenue targets. The knock-on effect is that there are fewer trains available to junior miners, putting their business under severe financial risk.

“We estimate 20-million tonnes of export capacity lost, and with a coal price in excess of R2 000/t currently, the numbers are staggering, translating to a loss of an estimated R40-billion worth of foreign exchange,” he says of the impact of what he dubs “train-shedding”.

Barberry’s solution to the network availability risks is longer and heavier trains using the same locomotives heading directly to the facility, instead of having the trains split, in Ermelo, into 100-wagon trains that have to service the various mines in the Witbank and Middelburg areas.

“The opportunity we identified was how to create what we believe are mega facilities that can use the TFR available infrastructure more optimally and efficiently for maximum use,” Moodliar comments.

Running longer trains will maximise throughput on the rail corridors and, therefore, the disruptions created by security incidents may be limited, as more trains will be moved during the period when the line is open.

“We identified this facility at the Pullenshope Siding, two hours from Ermelo, and built the facility to handle 200 wagons instead of 100. This created more movement on the network, dealing with constraints, addressing both these supply chain constraints,” he continues.

“TFR can convert these 100-wagon trains to 200-wagon trains using the same locomotive resources, which are presently in short supply, and, hence, generate at least three extra trains a day with an additional annualised capacity of over 8.5-million tonnes a year for the benefit of all coal export parties.”

As the train arrives on the Pullenshope loop line, it is split in half, with the first 100-wagon train pushed back into the siding line and loaded by front-end loaders. The second 100-wagon train will similarly enter the siding line before dispatch to Ermelo, where they are then combined into 200-wagon trains for transport to the RBCT.

The Pullenshope Siding is a loop-based siding, where locomotives can remain attached while the train is being loaded and released, with a total processing time of under three hours.

The siding pad has an ability to handle up to five trains of 8 840 t separately stockpiled and ready to load and, hence, can receive and load back-to-back, 100/104 wagon jumbo trains.

A successful test run on October 21 demonstrated that trains can be received as either 200, 204 or 208 wagon combinations and loaded through this system.

All sidings on the Wonderfontein Corridor have now been tested to operate as 200-wagon train combinations.

“This process improves the cycle time of trains on the corridor to under 50 hours against a current average of more than 60 hours, the benefit being that more trains should be realised in the system, even with the limitations on locomotive availability and the security occurrences on the rail line,” the company concludes.

Edited by Martin Zhuwakinyu
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor



Immersive Technologies
Immersive Technologies

Immersive Technologies is the world's largest, proven and tested supplier of simulator training solutions to the global resources industry.


Since 1919, Victaulic’s innovative solutions and design services continue to increase construction productivity and reduce risk, ensuring projects...


Latest Multimedia

sponsored by

Photo of Martin Creamer
On-The-Air (24/05/2024)
24th May 2024 By: Martin Creamer
Magazine round up | 24 May 2024
Magazine round up | 24 May 2024
24th May 2024

Option 1 (equivalent of R125 a month):

Receive a weekly copy of Creamer Media's Engineering News & Mining Weekly magazine
(print copy for those in South Africa and e-magazine for those outside of South Africa)
Receive daily email newsletters
Access to full search results
Access archive of magazine back copies
Access to Projects in Progress
Access to ONE Research Report of your choice in PDF format

Option 2 (equivalent of R375 a month):

All benefits from Option 1
Access to Creamer Media's Research Channel Africa for ALL Research Reports, in PDF format, on various industrial and mining sectors including Electricity; Water; Energy Transition; Hydrogen; Roads, Rail and Ports; Coal; Gold; Platinum; Battery Metals; etc.

Already a subscriber?

Forgotten your password?







sq:0.274 0.323s - 141pq - 2rq
Subscribe Now