Rail and port parastatal Transnet on Thursday just launched the world's longest train: it's four-kilometres long with a record-breaking 375 wagons.
The manganese train previously had 312 wagons - and was already the longest in the world. But Transnet has increased the number of carriages, which will hike the manganese volume from 19 656 tons to 23 625 tons per train.
It is designed to travel 861 km between Sishen in the Northern Cape and Saldanha in the Western Cape.
Transnet considered increasing the manganese’s rail capacity by upgrading the railway feeder lines and build new rolling stock, but then the project team explored new technology to increase the train's length instead. This will save Transnet a lot of money.
"Applying distributed power technology to increase the train length to 375 wagons will reduce capital requirements by over 90% of the initial estimate," Freight Rail General Manager for the iron ore and manganese business unit, Russell Baatjies, said in a statement.
It takes some eight minutes for the train to pass you by, from start to end, Engineering News reported.
Transnet Freight Rail general manager, Brian Monakali, hailed the extended trains as a breakthrough for the heavy-haul railway industry in South Africa and other economies.
"Rio Tinto, Australia, recently started with the implementation of driverless trains in their Iron Ore railway system. Transnet has now successfully operationalised the 375-wagon train.