Friday, 05 August 2022, an historic agreement to transport coal from Eswatini by rail to Moçambique and subsequently other commodities, was signed in Maputo by the two government owned railway operators. The signing ceremony was witnessed by the Eswatini Minister of Public Works and Transport – Chief Ndlaluhlaza Ndwandwe and the Mozambican Minister for Transport and Communications, Dr Mateus Magala.
The current operation vs the proposed model:
Currently, the two railway administrations only work in defined territories within the confines of their countries; there are designated interchange points wherein rolling stock is swapped. The agreement paves the way for a seamless ‘borderless’ operation where consignments are moved from source to destination using one set of rolling stock.
The system of interchange points had too many long idle dwell times, as consignments in wagons would be uncoupled to be later re-hitched to an incoming locomotive from the neighbouring railway. With the seamless operation the idle times are completely removed as trains will always be on the move.
The interchange arrangement currently promotes:
- Underutilization of rolling stock and other resources due to the dwell times associated with it.
- Duplication of processes, for instance brake testing and wagon examination is done before the train departs from source, which is duplicated before a train departs at the interchange point. However, with the seamless operation these processes are only done at source and the train goes straight to the destination.
Railway administrators are currently unable to offer predictable services and yet with the seamless operation the railways administrators will be able to run scheduled trains thus increasing efficiency in all fronts increasing customer confidence in rail.
Due to the idle time and inefficiencies associated with the interchange system volumes of cargo moved are compromised, however, with the seamless operation, assets will be sweat to the fullest and the railway administrators will be able to move more volumes with the limited resources they have.