Picture: SUNDAY TIMES
Picture: SUNDAY TIMES

STATE-owned Transnet Freight Rail has reopened its Orkney-Vierfontein branch line service to cut transport times for railed goods and improve market access to boost volumes.

The branch line cluster, which is supported by a new 15.3km, rail links the North West and the Free State.

Maize railed from the Klerksdorp and Coligny area to Durban could more than double to 150,000 tons a year, Transnet said, from about 70,000 tons a year now.

The line would create alternative access to Durban when the line between Klerksdorp and Vereeniging is unavailable when it is being used to transport manganese and iron ore to Newcastle, Cato Ridge and Durban, Transnet Freight Rail CEO Siyabonga Gama said on Monday in Orkney.

The line would also serve as an alternative route for passenger trains when the line between Vereeniging and Klerksdorp or between Orkney and Kimberley became unavailable, Mr Gama said.

The Orkney-Vierfontein link would contribute to the expansion and development of the "concentrated grain area", Transnet chairman Mafika Mkwanazi said.

The service will run between Vierfontein in the North West and Orkney in the Free State, and will focus on transporting grains and bulk liquids such as chemicals and fuel.

Transnet is spending R300bn over the next seven years under its new Market Demand Strategy to lift its capacity and to stimulate higher levels of economic growth.