R190bn over seven years to ease pressure on roads

Transnet has increased its budget to construct railway lines to ease pressure on roads, particularly in Mpumalanga, by R190 billion over the next seven years.

The parastatal is presently re-instating the 30-kilometre Grootvlei-Balfour railway line, which will transport coal to the Grootvlei Power Station.

President Jacob Zuma officially opened the 1 200 MW Grootvlei Power Station near Balfour yesterday.

The station, which was mothballed in 1990 because of an oversupply at the time, has been upgraded at a cost of R7.2 billion to supplement the country’s stressed power supply.

The province has been concerned that heavy trucks, transporting coal from mines to Eskom’s power station, are destroying the roads.

Zuma said the road-to-rail migration strategy was receiving full government support.

“Transnet has expanded its capital expenditure budget from R110 billion over five years to R300 billion over the next seven years. Shifting from road to rail will ease traffic congestion and reduce carbon emissions,” he said.

The Grootvlei-Balfour railway line will transport up to seven million tons of coal a year to the power station.

A new 63km railway line from Ermelo to Eskom’s Majuba power station near Amersfoort will also be built at a cost of R5.3 billion.

Transnet will construct another railway link, that will pass through Swaziland, in order to increase rail capacity to Richards Bay, KwaZulu-Natal.

Mpumalanga is home to most of the country’s coal-powered stations and produces more than 80% of the country’s electricity. As a result, its roads have been under pressure from heavy trucks.

Said Mpumalanga Premier David Mabuza: “We’re happy that [the road to rail migration strategy] has finally started. Our roads have been under extreme pressure.”

Two additional power stations mothballed a few decades ago – Camden near Ermelo and Komati near Middleburg – were re-commissioned in the last few years, putting more pressure on roads.

The R118.5 billion Kusile power station, which will also use coal, is still under construction.

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