Railway operations as well as current and future developments have come under the spotlight in Cape Town where the annual International Heavy Haul Association (IHHA) conference is under way.
Opening the conference – which is being held for the second time in South Africa – Transnet group chief executive Siyabonga Gama said the country was at the cutting edge of heavy haul railway operations.
“We operate 342 wagon trains on our iron ore line between Sishen and Saldanha. We believe these are the longest trains currently operational in the world and we run eight of these a day.”
He said rail remained the most efficient way to move bulk commodities over long distances and the conference would allow South Africa to engage with world experts on developments in the heavy haul rail industry.
“This event allows the railway sector to share pertinent information and to discuss advances in technology and other developments,” said Gama.
The future of the heavy haul industry has been on shaky ground in recent years considering the adverse global market conditions and the drop-in commodity prices.
With profitability and sustainability of heavy rail operators around the globe under threat, the three-day event has drawn more than 1 000 executives, professionals and engineers sharing not only technical developments but also insights and updates on heavy haul developments, rail expansion plans and global technological advancement.