Picture: THINKSTOCK
Picture: THINKSTOCK

TRANSNET Freight Rail has started negotiations with four railway organisations in countries north of South Africa to create a unified railway system on the corridor linking South Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo, Transport Minister Ben Martins said on Wednesday.

The organisations are National Railways of Zimbabwe, Zambian Railways, the Congo Railway Company and Beitbridge Bulawayo Railway.

Mr Martins said a joint operating centre would be established in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, to enable integrated resource planning and to achieve operational efficiencies.

The centre would also improve communication as all the organisations would be accommodated in one facility, and enable "effective and quick deviation management" across borders.

In a written reply to a parliamentary question by National Council of Provinces member Darryl Worth, Mr Martins said six committees would be established to align operations, investment planning, new business development, safety, skills development and security across the railway lines.

"The joint planning and business development will allow all four organisations to develop a joint marketing drive that is intended to encourage not only exports from South Africa, but also jointly identify the return cargo that will optimise the use of the same wagons for imports into South Africa," the minister said.

He said Southern African Development Community member countries would benefit financially from this rail corridor.