Ysterwiele – Sishen-Saldanha

Dankie “apartheid” sonder die Sishen-Saldanha spoor of hawe kon niks bereik word nie – alle SOE’s kom uit die dae van die vorige regering – trots om deel daarvan te gewees het, plus damme wat ontwerp was en in gebruik geneem is.      Die langste trein kronkel deur die dorre wêreld soos ‘n ellelange duisendpoot – op die rug ‘n swaar vrag mangaan na die hawe van Saldanha.   Die klank van yster op yster wat voortsnel na ‘n eindbestemming.    Inderdaad ‘n baie lang trein en oortref die vorige rekords.   Gaan terug na 1989 waar die eerste spoor geloop het.   In South Africa railway men do things big and it doesn’t get bigger than the Sishen-Saldanha line. In 1989 the longest and heaviest train in the world made an historic trip down the line.

A similar train (shorter of course) on the Sishen Line – Source Unknown – Peter Ball collection
Image result for sishen saldanha train


SALDANHA BAY (miningweekly.com) – State-owned rail company Transnet Freight Rail (TFR) on Thursday, 24 October 2019, launched a 4-km-long train, with 375 wagons, officially making it the longest train in the world. 

Well done Lisa.   The train was driven by Lisa Clark and transported about 24 000 tons of manganese over a distance of more than 860 km between the Sishen mine, in the Northern Cape, and Saldanha Bay.

This breaks Transnet’s own record of a train with 342 wagons, which transports iron-ore along the same Transnet corridor.   Transnet previously reported that the 375-wagon train was decided on as a result of an increase in the production of manganese in South Africa.

Transnet transported about 14.01-million tonnes of manganese in 2018/19, compared with the 9.6-million tonnes transported in 2016/17.

The train takes about eight minutes to pass one by from start to end.

The train is said to go a long way in lowering the cost of doing business in the country and migrating traffic from road to rail and will add R355-million in freight revenue yearly. This will be achieved by optimising the use of existing assets, locomotives and wagons, and within the installed infrastructure constraints.

Transnet operates more than 30 000 km of rail network across the country.

TFR GM Brian Monakali and Transnet business unit head Russell Baatjies were in attendance at the auspicious event on Thursday.



October 2019


The article below, compiled by Norman Chandler for The Star, tells the story of this record breaking feat. It appears as though a train in Australia broke the record in 2001.

Nightmares do have silver linings, railwaymen happily discovered this weekend. After hours of high drama, South African Transport Services are today toasting a world record for the longest and heaviest train ever run – a  7.281km monster that travelled 861km from Sishen to Saldanha Bay.

In all, 660 fully-laden ore trucks, nine electric locomotives, seven Diesel engines and three other cars made the journey, which began at Sishen at 12.45 on Saturday afternoon and ended at Saldanha at 3.40pm yesterday. But it was a close thing.

The Monster

Dubbed “The Monster”, the train – which if placed on Johannesburg’s M1 motorway would cover the distance from the Jan Smuts Avenue on-ramp to just short of the Corlett Drive exit – finally left Erts station, here, nearly seven hours late. On its journey it generated sufficient power to light a city the size of Port Elizabeth.

Seven years in the planning, SATS had everything ready for this weekend’s bid for a place in the Guiness Book of Records as having run the longest and heaviest train ever assembled. The trucks, pulled and pushed by 16 Class 9E electric and diesel locomotives , dwarfed the 1967 feat of an American train of 500 coal trucks pulled a distance of 252km.

But, just 6 1/2 hours before “The Monster” was due to leave, disaster struck. As it was being coupled early on Saturday morning for a 6am start, a fully-laden truck jumped the rails, ploughed through three sets of railway lines and wrecked meticulous planning.

The unforeseen mishap had SATS engineers tearing their hair out under the searing sun of the northern Cape. It took another record of sorts to pull it together again.

Railway workers, helped by mine personnel, rebuilt the railway line to allow the train to leave Erts at 12.45pm on Saturday. According to SATS officials, the repair time was “remarkable” and involved just about every person at the depot. Stationmaster Mr Gerrie van Dyk had just returned home from a long day at the office putting last-minute touches into place for the record bid when he was told of the derailment.

“I thought: Oh no! We had all the senior people down to see the train off, and this had to happen. But I am very pleased with the speed at which the repairs took place,” Mr van Dyk said.

Mr Tom Boshoff, SATS chief director technical operating, was on the spot to ensure that repair work went ahead speedily. The railways team which put together the record bid watched, literally with hearts in mouths, as the 70 543-ton train began to move out of Erts on the long journey through Namaqualand to Saldanha Bay. The train took 12 minutes to pass by the watching engineers.





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