Sishen–Saldanha railway line

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Ore Export Line
Overview
TypeIron ore freight
LocaleWestern & Northern Cape, South Africa
TerminiSishen, Northern Cape
Saldanha, Western Cape
Operation
Opened1976
OwnerTransnet Freight Rail
Operator(s)Transnet Freight Rail
Depot(s)Salkor Yard
Technical
Line length861 km (535 mi)
Number of tracks1
Track gauge1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in)
Electrification50 kV AC overhead catenary
Operating speed80 km/h
Route map
-
861km Sishen
(Left arrow Hotazel – Postmasburg Right arrow)
792km Vrolik
Loop 18
741km Witpan
Loop 17
699km Rooilyf
Loop 16
(Left arrow Upington – Prieska Right arrow)
659km Oorkruis
Loop 15
614km Rugseer
Loop 14
576km Kenhardt
Loop 13
532km Kolke
Loop 12
484km Dagab
Loop 11
446km Halfweg
Loop 10
409km Commissioner's Pan
Loop 9
372km Sous
Loop 8
337km De Kop
Loop 7
274km Kanakies
Loop 6
227km Saggiesberg
Loop 5
184km Knersvlak
Loop 4
142km Bamboesbaai
Loop 3
92km Kreefbaai
Loop 2
Bobbejaansberg Tunnel
41km Dwarskersbos
Loop 1
(Left arrow Saldanha – Cape Town Right arrow)
0km Salkor
Port of Saldanha

The Sishen–Saldanha railway line, also known as the Ore Export Line (OREX), is an 861-kilometre-long (535 mi) heavy-haul railway line in South Africa.[1] It connects iron ore mines near Sishen in the Northern Cape with the port at Saldanha Bay in the Western Cape.[1] It is used primarily to transport iron ore (60 million tonnes per year)[2] and does not carry passenger traffic.

A video of the end part of the 342-wagon 3,780-metre long Sishen–Saldanha iron-ore train on its way to Saldanha in the Western Cape, South Africa

The Sishen–Saldanha line was built by Iscor, the then iron and steel parastatal, opening in 1976.[3]

In 1977 the line was transferred to Transnet Freight Rail, then known as South African Railways & Harbours, and was electrified.[3] A voltage of 50 kV AC was chosen instead of the usual 25 kV to haul heavier loads and allow greater distance between transformers.

A single-track line with 10 crossing loops to allow trains travelling in opposite directions to pass was constructed. The number of crossing loops has increased to 19 to increase line capacity.[1]

From an altitude of 1,295 metres (4,249 ft) at Sishen, the line climbs for 42 kilometres (26 mi) before descending to cross the Orange River about 10 kilometres (6 mi) downstream of Groblershoop.[1] For the next 300 kilometres (190 mi), the line rises and falls before descending towards the Atlantic coast.[1] The railway crosses the Olifants River on a 1,035 metres (3,396 ft) viaduct between Vredendal and Lutzville[3] and reaches the coast about 160 kilometres (100 mi) north of Saldanha.[1] From there the line follows a coastal route.

Note the very long 50 kV insulators on the catenary masts
Example of a locomotive
Inside the cab of a locomotive

Initial train lengths consisted of three class 9E electric locomotives, hauling 210 type CR ore wagons with a payload of 80 tons.[3] Upgraded wagons now carry 100 tons.[1] Train lengths were increased in 2007 to 342 wagons, employing Radio Distributed Power (RDP) technology. These trains (initially with 10 locomotives, a mix of electric and diesel-electric) and 342 wagons have a total mass of 41,400 tonnes and are 3,780 metres (12,400 ft) long, the longest production trains in the world. The same 342-wagon trains are now powered by just five 15Es, crewed by one driver and one assistant.[2]

The train length was increased in October 2019 to 375 wagons [4]

An aerial view of an ore train on the Sishen–Saldanha line.
An aerial view of an ore train on the Sishen–Saldanha line

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g Dickson, Rollo (3 June 2007). "Orex upgrade targets more capacity". Railway Gazette International.
  2. ^ a b Barrow, Keith (25 January 2012). "Transnet invests in heavy-haul capacity". International Railway Journal Magazine.
  3. ^ a b c d Boonzaaier, Boon (2008). Tracks Across the Veld. ISBN 978-0-620-41711-2.
  4. ^ "Transnet sets new world record with 4km-long manganese train".