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TFR confirms applications for slot sales on two corridors

Rail line

Photo by Creamer Media

2nd September 2022

By: Terence Creamer

Creamer Media Editor

     

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State-owned railways utility Transnet Freight Rail (TFR) has confirmed that applications were received by the August 31 deadline for the slots being made available for sale to third-party operators on the Container Corridor from Gauteng to Durban and the South Corridor from Gauteng to East London. 

TFR did not immediately indicate how many bids had been received, however.

The sale process for 16 slots across both corridors was initiated on April 1 and a bid submission deadline of May 31 was initially announced.

However, following the April floods in KwaZulu-Natal, which severely damaged parts of the rail network, the deadline was postponed to the end of August.

TFR did not provide a timeframe for bid evaluation, saying only that the applications would be evaluated over the next few months, with winning bidders to be announced once that process had been concluded.

Ahead of the deadline for bids, some concern had been expressed about aspects of the slot-sale framework, including the two-year time limit, which was seen as insufficient for private operators to secure a return on their capital-intensive investments.

However, Transnet stressed that slot sales would become an ongoing part of the TFR business model as envisaged in the Draft White Paper on the National Rail Policy and said that further slots would be released in 2023.

In addition, Operation Vulindlela has identified third-party access to the freight rail network as a priority reform for supporting higher levels of economic growth.

President Cyril Ramaphosa also highlighted the reform in a recent address to the Business Unity South Africa annual general meeting, where he described the return of rail and port operations to full capability as “essential for the recovery and future growth of our economy”.

“The Economic Regulation of Transport Bill, once finalised, will provide for open and non-discriminatory third-party access to the rail network and the establishment of a Transport Economic Regulator.

“In the interim, proposals are due from private operators for 16 slots made available by Transnet on the Durban-City Deep and Pretoria-East London lines,” Ramaphosa said.

Transnet said it anticipated that the learnings drawn from the sale of these slots would provide key insights to the development of reforms set out in the National Rail Policy.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter

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