South Africa-basedÂ engineeringÂ consultancy Mott MacDonald PDNA (MMPDNA) states that it is currently finalising the feasibility stage of State-ownedÂ rail operatorÂ Transnetâ€™s R17-billionÂ SwazilandÂ link railwayÂ project.
TheÂ projectÂ entails theÂ constructionÂ of 146Â km of new railway line, which will run from Lothair, in Mpumalanga, to Sidvokodvo, inÂ Swaziland, to complete the connection toÂ Maputo, inÂ Mozambique, andÂ Richards Bay, in KwaZulu-Natal.
He notes that the initial motivation behind thisÂ projectÂ was to remove general freight traffic off the coal line between Ermelo and theÂ PortÂ ofÂ Richards Bay, and release capacity to increase coal export volumes.
Hood explains thatÂ TransnetÂ projectsÂ run through a four-stage cycle, known as front-end-loading (FEL) phases. FEL-1 is the conceptual design phase of theÂ projectÂ during which different design options are identified.
In FEL-2, the level ofÂ engineeringÂ definition is increased and the most viable of the options arrived at in FEL-1 are developed. Design options can be rejected on the basis of spatial,environmentalÂ or geometric constraints.
â€œTheÂ SwazilandÂ linkÂ projectÂ is currently in the FEL-3 phase of theÂ project. A single design option has been selected and MMPDNA is completing the processes that will enableTransnetÂ to take the design to tender.
â€œFEL-4 will entail inviting contractors to submit bids to startÂ constructionÂ of theÂ project,â€ he says, noting that the design of the four-year-oldÂ projectÂ will be finalised before the end of the year.
Hood asserts that thisÂ projectÂ is the largest undertaken byÂ TransnetÂ since theÂ constructionÂ of the coal line, which runs from Mpumalanga toÂ Richards Bay.
MMPDNA MDÂ Dempsey NaidooÂ notes that there is currently a moratorium on diversified natural resources companyÂ Eurasian Natural Resources Corporationâ€™s (ENRCâ€™s) Nacala logisticsÂ projectÂ â€“ which will be used to export coal and entails the laying of 1 200Â km of track and theÂ constructionÂ of aÂ portÂ interface at Nacala, on the northern coast ofÂ MozambiqueÂ â€“ until negotiations between theÂ Mozambiquegovernment and ENRC have been concluded.
TheÂ railÂ portion of the Nacala logisticsÂ projectÂ involves laying a new standard gauge track from Tete province to Nacala. TheÂ railÂ projectÂ is valued at $7-billion and also entails the installation ofÂ port-interfaceÂ materials handlingÂ equipment such as stacker reclaimers.