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Heavy rain shuts down freight rail in Limpopo and Mpumalanga

Rain has caused havoc across Mpumalanga and Limpopo for freight rail.

Rain has caused havoc across Mpumalanga and Limpopo for freight rail.

Heavy rains in Limpopo and Mpumalanga have shut down Transnet’s freight rail network in the northeast of the country, stopping the movement of magnetite, chrome, ferrochrome, rock phosphate and coal. 

Transnet said on Friday that “abnormal rains” had damaged the rail infrastructure across the vital corridor that links SA to Mozambique and eSwatini. 

All freight rail has been suspended, even in unaffected areas, as a precautionary measure. Exports to Maputo port are at a standstill.

“The infrastructure impact of the floods has unfortunately caused wash-aways – an occurrence where flood water overwhelms the drainage systems and wash away the ballast that supports the railway sleepers causing an unsafe conditions for the safe running of trains,” said Transnet. 

Impacted areas include the railway lines between Nelspruit, Kaapmuiden and Komatipoort, as well as the Mhlume line to eSwatini. 

Branch line operations at Lydenburg (Mashishing) and Belfast are also severely impacted, stopping the flow of coal. 

There have also been reports of wash-aways on the Hoedspruit, Groenbult, Messina and Pienaarsriver lines. 

The freight rail operator said traffic would only resume once all lines have been declared safe. 

Rain has been forecast over the weekend and into next week for areas such as Nelspruit and Komatipoort.  

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