TFR bemoans unprecedented levels of cable theft, vandalism

10th November 2021

By: Simone Liedtke

Creamer Media Social Media Editor & Senior Writer


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The theft of overhead cables and vandalism of Transnet Freight Rail’s (TFR’s) property has reached unprecedented levels, the rail entity said on November 10.

From January to October, TFR has lost over 1 000 km of copper cable, while an average of 600 theft and vandalism incidents a month were recorded.

The consequences of cable theft are not limited to financial losses but often result in tragedy and means that TFR security is under constant threat such as last week’s incident where a security officer was ambushed and fatally injured at the Natalspruit Depot in Germiston.

TFR stressed that it “continues to witness a steep increase in incidents”, as the period October 29 to November 10 saw 55 km of cable being stolen, 9.4 km of which was stolen in the last 48 hours alone.

“The rampant theft and vandalism have a severe impact on freight movements and has a direct impact on TFR’s and customers’ revenues as we cancel trains daily,” TFR said.

Year-to-date, TFR has cancelled 1 190 trains as a direct result of security-related incidents, of which many take place on high-traffic and high-volume corridors, moving major bulk commodities for customers.

“We have seen a particular spike in incidents in the NorthCor (where we move coal), CapeCor (where we move manganese) and the Central Corridor, which is a junction connecting all of our corridors. These lost volumes can never be recouped,” TFR said.

It noted that the incidents range from the theft of copper cable, vandalism of susbstations which are crucial to the running of TFR’s electrified fleet, theft of wiring and cable from locomotives, theft of wooden rail sleepers and other malicious damage to Transnet property.

The damage runs into hundreds of millions of rands.

In response, TFR said it continues to engage law enforcement agencies to assist in crime prevention across its network, though it is now pleading to the general public to contact the Crime Stop Hotline on 08600 01000 or to send an email to to report any suspicious activity near and around the network.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter



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