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Road-to-rail collaboration eases congestion during citrus season

Home Agriculture Road-to-rail collaboration eases congestion during citrus season

TRANSNET Port Terminals, Transnet Freight Rail and Maersk successfully collaborated to implement a road-to-rail initiative to operate during the citrus season at the Eastern Cape port terminals.

The joint effort aims to alleviate congestion at the Ngqura Container Terminal (NCT) and enhance business fluidity by utilising rail transport to move empty reefer containers. Shipping lines typically discharge empty reefer containers in preparation for increased demand during the citrus season, from May to the end of October.

In the past, these containers were road-hauled from NCT to the Maersk container depot near Deal Party. However, the high influx of trucks during this period prompted an engagement between Transnet Port Terminals (TPT) and Transnet Freight Rail (TFR). Rail transport was explored as a means of reducing congestion and optimising operations. In early June, a significant milestone was reached when the first Maersk reefer shuttle train carried 50 empty reefers from NCT to Deal Party. The initiative has been in development for nearly two years.

Fifty trucks carrying one container each can be removed from the roads and ports and replaced by one train carrying 50 containers. The reduction in truck traffic not only enhances business operations, but also contributes to safer roads. This collaboration between TPT’s Port Elizabeth Container Terminal, Ngqura Container Terminal, and TFR teams exemplifies the commitment to conceptualising and implementing innovative solutions that benefit both industry and the local community.

Looking ahead, TPT and TFR plan to expand the road-to-rail initiative in the Eastern Cape by introducing an inter-terminal shuttle service between NCT and Port Elizabeth Container Terminal for full containers. Efforts are also being made to make use of the return leg, from Deal Party to NCT for empty containers.

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