Transnet Saldanha BayMarch 29, 2009 by: admin
Global locomotive supplier GE Transportation has completed the installation of a distributed power system on the Orex iron-ore line, making it possible to increase the line’s freight capacity.
South Africa’s Orex line, which is owned and managed by State-owned utility Transnet, is the critical ore feeder line running from Kumba’s Sishen mine, in the Northern Cape, to the Port of Saldanha Bay, on the West Coast of the country.
GE South Africa Technologies CEO Phedzi Radzilani explains that the Locotrol distributed power system, the first train power distribution and control system of its kind worldwide, allows for longer freight trains and increased freight capacity without the need to invest in costly infrastructure.
“Through this system, power is distributed to locomotives spaced throughout the train.”
“The system provides not only single- station power control, but also readily accessible, centralised diagnostics in the event of a breakdown.
“With Locotrol, the train driver knows at all times exactly what each section of the train is doing, including what speed it is travelling at, what braking power it needs or is exerting, and how healthy it is.
“In-train sections are shorter and weigh less, and need less braking force, which results in substantial cost savings on fuel, brake wear and tear, and maintenance”.
Radzilani elaborates that the system has been tested and proven for more than two decades, and has been installed in more than 6 000 freight systems globally.
Transnet awarded the contract in July 2005, with the first prototype commissioned a year later.
Locotrol has now been fitted on thirty-one 9E electric units and 20 diesel locomotives altogether.
The Locotrol system has enabled Transnet to run the longest multiengine system freight train in the world, with a length of 3,8 km.
The system has also enabled Transnet to increase freight capacity, boosting iron-ore exports.
In addition to the installation of the Locotrol system, Radzilani explains that Transnet has also selected GE Hydra-Switch tech- nology for the Saldanha yard and secondary lines. This Hydra-Switch mechanism allows customers to increase automation for additional productivity and worker safety.
These projects form part of Transnet’s R5,8-billion iron-ore export channel expansion programme between Sishen and Saldanha.
The upgrade is being undertaken by Transnet and Kumba Iron Ore in order to facilitate the planned expansion in iron-ore export volumes to a maximum capacity of 93-million tons a year.
This project involves the upgrade of the Sishen–Saldanha iron-ore line from the current 38-million tons a year to 47-million tons a year by 2009/10, and a further expansion of the line from 47-million tons a year to 60-million tons a year by 2012.
According to GE Transportation regional sales leader for sub-Saharan Africa Swaady Martin, Transnet is the company’s single largest customer on the continent.
“Despite the economic downturn, the train operator told us that they expect projects to continue with some possible reprioritisation,” concludes Martin.