Sishen–Saldanha railway line, a record breaker.   19 comments

A train of true significance.

When we recently visited my Son in Kathu I had the pleasure of observing a train being loaded with iron ore. 342 trucks each with 100 tons of ore, 34200 tons on its way to Saldanha Port, 861 km (538 miles) away.

Here are some interesting facts about the train…

Trains employing Radio Distributed Power (RDP) technology. These 41,400 tonnes total mass, 3780 metres (2.36 miles) long trains, that use 8 locomotives and 342 wagons, are the longest production trains in the world.

The longest and heaviest train that carried ore from Sishen mine to Saldanha Bay, was a 7,5km (4.69 mile) train of 660 wagons which carried 68 640 tonnes of ore.

Here are some interesting facts about the Port…

Significant capital has been spent to increase iron ore exports from the deep-water port to meet the growing demand. The infrastructure’s set to further expand as the port is gearing up to increase capacity on the rail line in the future. Current infrastructure at the port comprises two rotary tipplers, four stacker/ re-claimers, two ship-loaders and 25 conveying systems, providing the terminal with a capacity to load 10 000 tonnes per hour into a vessel.

  • Operating 24/7, the ore quay at Saldanha has two berths where two vessels of 310 000 DWT can simultaneously berth at the iron ore jetty.
  • From arrival to departure – including piloting, berthing, loading, draft survey and de-berthing; an ore vessel carrying 170 000 tonnes will be in Saldanha Bay for just 24 hours. A vessel carrying 210 000 tonnes will spend 32 hours in the port, while a vessel carrying 240 000 tonnes of ore will be there for 48 hours.
  • Saldanha Bay Port is bigger than Durban, Cape Town’s Table Bay, Richards Bay and Port Elizabeth’s harbours combined.
  • Saldanha Port Operations submits an annual Environmental Report in line with the Global Reporting Initiative. It respects that it’s located in an ecologically sensitive area, and takes all measures possible to manage the area responsibly.
  • In 2011, 37 100 000 tons of iron ore was exported by Kumba from Saldanha Bay to customers in countries and regions around the world. (approx. 1000 train loads of ore)And the few photos that I managed to capture… it is difficult to photograph a train of this length… but suffice it to say, it is long…

Len 10-10-2012 079

Len 10-10-2012 080

and this is what they are loading… although it would be crushed to a smaller size than this piece of approx. 2.5 tons…

Len 10-10-2012 115

Len 10-10-2012 116

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19 responses to “Sishen–Saldanha railway line, a record breaker.

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  1. I love all things train, so I love this post~

    • Thank you.. it is a site to see… hoping at some time to get an invite into the mine to see the loading of these trains which is all automatic…

  2. I do the planning of the locomotives used on these trains! Total fleet of 150 and we combine the electrics with the diesels. 4 sets of engines on the train, all operated by one driver from the front

    • Thank you for there visit and look in.. I spend hours trying to capture good shots of the trains when they leave Kathu.. next time I’m there maybe I can get a tour of the loading etc from you..????

  3. Very interesting post indeed!

  4. So interesting. I remember seeing the iron ore trains going from the Iron Range in Minnesota to Silver Bay or Taconite Harbor on Lake Superior to be shipped out.

  5. That is one LONG train and one HUGE rock! Very interesting stats, amazing the things we take for granted.

  6. That longest train was very long indeed. Hubby has been to Sishen many times, commissioning work that his company did there. Thanks for the photos; first time I’ve seen what a huge piece of iron ore looks like. :)

  7. Thanks, …. by the way my Dad was also a Rhodesian. The world just keeps geeting smaller :) Laura

  8. Hi Bulldog, fascinating data here! My late Dad used to be the Boss at Iscor, and was therefore involved with the Sishen mines. I was a Project Accountant for the building of Saldanha Steel in the early ’90’s! I imagine some of this iron ore coming from Sishen is also delivered to Saldanha Steel plant – is it still operational? I also didn’t realise that the bay area is bigger than all our other ports combined! We avoided it when we were there due to the horrible smells coming from the Fish canning factories there. Laura

    • Laura… thanks for the comment … I was an employee of Iscor when I left Rhodesia in 1975, but only for a year and then moved on… the Saldanha steel plant I think ended up being sold on and wither or not it’s still operational I cannot say…
      I know there was problems with the new owner of Iscor (now called something else) and Kumbe Iron ore, I have to assume he took over that plant as well… but the info I got was from a PR woman in Kathu and I never asked any other info except what you read… but now I shall dig deeper to find these things out…

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