- Sishen–Saldanha railway line
Ore Export Line Overview Type Iron ore freight Locale Western & Northern Cape, South Africa Termini Sishen, Northern Cape
Saldanha, Western Cape
Operation Opened 1976 Owner Transnet Freight Rail Operator(s) Transnet Freight Rail Technical Line length 861 km (535 mi) Track gauge 1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in) Cape gauge Electrification 50 kV AC overhead catenary Route mapLegend 861km Sishen ( Hotazel – Postmasburg ) 792km Vrolik Loop 18 741km Witpan Loop 17 699km Rooilyf Loop 16 Orange River ( Upington – Prieska ) 659km Oorkruis Loop 15 614km Rugseer Loop 14 576km Kenhardt Loop 13 532km Kolke Loop 12 484km Dagab Loop 11 446km Halfweg Loop 10 409km Commissioner's Pan Loop 9 372km Sous Loop 8 337km De Kop Loop 7 274km Kanakies Loop 6 Northern Cape-Western Cape border 227km Saggiesberg Loop 5 184km Knersvlak Loop 4 ( Bitterfontein – Cape Town ) Olifants River 142km Bamboesbaai Loop 3 92km Kreefbaai Loop 2 Bobbejaansberg Tunnel 41km Dwarskersbos Loop 1 Berg River ( Saldanha – Cape Town ) 0km Salkor Port of Saldanha
The Sishen–Saldanha railway line, also known as the Ore Export Line, is an 861 kilometres (535 mi) long heavy haul railway line in South Africa. It connects iron ore mines near Sishen in the Northern Cape with the port at Saldanha Bay in the Western Cape. It is used primarily to transport iron ore and does not carry passenger traffic.
The Sishen–Saldanha line was built by Iscor, the then iron and steel parastatal, opening in 1976. In 1977 the line was transferred to Transnet Freight Rail, then known as South African Railways & Harbours, and a decision was made to electrify the line. A voltage of 50 kV AC was chosen instead of the usual 25 kV in order to haul heavier loads and to allow a larger distance between transformers.
A single set of tracks with ten crossing loops to allow trains travelling in opposite directions to pass was constructed; this has since been increased to 19 crossing loops to increase line capacity.
From an altitude of 1,295 metres (4,249 ft) at Sishen, the line climbs for 42 kilometres (26 mi) before descending to cross the Orange River about 10 kilometres (6 mi) downstream of Groblershoop. For the next 300 kilometres (190 mi), the line rises and falls before descending towards the Atlantic coast. The railway crosses the Olifants River on a 1,035 metres (3,396 ft) viaduct between Vredendal and Lutzville and reaches the coast about 160 kilometres (100 mi) north of Saldanha. From here it follows a coastal route.
Initial train lengths consisted of 3x class 9E electric locomotives, hauling 210 type CR ore wagons with a payload of 80 tons. Upgraded wagons now carry 100 tons. Train lengths have been increased to 342 wagons, employing Radio Distributed Power (RDP) technology. These 4 km long trains (10 locomotives and 342 wagons), are the longest production trains in the world. More than 3,000 of these RDP trains have been operated since launched in December 2007.
- South African Class 34-000
- South African Class 34-400
- South African Class 34-500
- South African Class 34-900
- South African Class 9E, Series 1
- South African Class 9E, Series 2
- South African Class 15E
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