By any measure, Transnet Freight Rail has had a tough year on its premier iron-ore export line, with SA’s largest miner of the steel ingredient unsparing in its criticism of the parastatal’s performance. The declaration of force majeure by Transnet after a truck damaged a rail bridge on the line at the end of November and its hasty return of the line to service two days ahead of schedule were a welcome development and it shows the capacity within the company to provide a world-class service. On what could have been a two to four-week outage on the line, Transnet’s engineers deployed the best solutions available to bring the bridge back into action within just nine days, actions to be highly commended. But the problem lies in its performance in the first half of the year, which Kumba Iron Ore CEO Themba Mkhwanazi blamed for R2bn in lost interim revenue. He said there were derailments, cancellations and failures on the line, which is the critical export link to the Saldanha port for i...

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