A high-level long-term plan for the sequenced, phased, and feasibility-based development of a modern standard gauge national rail backbone in South Africa with connectivity to passenger and freight terminals

Jacob L. van der Merwe
April 2022

The low rail market share for general freight and passenger transport along South Africa’s long corridors negatively impacts the cost of logistics, restricts economic growth, and underutilizes rail capacity. Opportunities exist to technically improve capacity utilization of the existing narrow Cape gauge rail network and then attract lapsed and new rail customers. Access to rail-dominant market spaces depends on rail’s ability to run long, heavy, trains, that exploit rail’s genetic technologies. The wider standard gauge, with a lower centre of gravity than Cape gauge, allows for safe operation of heavy mineral and coal trains using high-side wagons, double-stack container trains and high-speed passenger trains. This report recommends a combination of continuous and breakthrough improvements on the existing narrow gauge rail network, together with construction of selected new standard gauge routes, to satisfy 2050 demand for freight and passenger transport by rail.

Download the SA-TIED report here