A Transnet Freight Rail train is seen next to tons of coal mined from the nearby Khanye Colliery mine, at the Bronkhorstspruit station, in Bronkhorstspruit, around 90 kilometres north-east of Johannesburg, South Africa, April 26, 2022. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

Ghost Trains Hobble South African Ports

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March 28, 2023

By Arijit Ghosh (Bloomberg) Transnet SOC is probing the existence of illegal freight trains that are depriving South Africa’s state-owned rail operator of revenue. 

The logistics firms that’s struggling to ship coal and iron ore said the “ghost trains” aren’t scheduled formally by the company. 

“Considering that these serious allegations have not yet been accompanied by supporting evidence, Transnet has referred the allegations for independent investigation,” it said in a statement on Monday. If the allegations “are proven correct, Transnet will act swiftly.”

The suspected illegal train movements are another headache for Transnet, which also runs the nation’s main ports and fuel pipelines. The company has been hobbled by a shortage of locomotive parts, the theft of cables used to operate its electric trains and inefficiencies that have arisen due to it being a monopoly. That’s hurting South African miners and exporters.

Thungela Resources Ltd., South Africa’s largest exporter of thermal coal, said on Monday it expects sales to drop for a second year because of bottlenecks at Transnet.

By Arijit Ghosh © 2023 Bloomberg L.P.

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