South Africa Starts Process of Allowing Private Rail Network Use

(Bloomberg) -- South Africa’s state logistics company has begun the process of allowing private companies to use its vast rail network by publishing a document detailing how it envisages the process will work.

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The draft network statement will be gazetted in a few days time for public consultation before being finalized in Transnet SOC Ltd.’s next financial year, which begins April 1, the company said in a statement late Friday.

The process of getting private trains onto its tracks will start in the second half of the year, the company said.

While Transnet’s 21,232 kilometer (13,193 miles) network accounts for about 85% of Africa’s rail tracks, poor maintenance and mismanagement has seen the amount of goods and commodities such as coal and iron ore transported plunge to about 150 million tons from 226 million tons over the last five years. Thats driven companies to resort to using trucks, damaging the country’s roads.

It is “a critical milestone in the rail reform process,” Transnet said. “Rules, time limits, timelines, procedures, services, charging principles, and terms and conditions governing the use of the railway infrastructure by train operating companies” is laid out in the document, Transnet added.

The document is part of a broad plan spearheaded by the office of South African President Cyril Ramaphosa to fix the country’s struggling ports and rail system, largely by boosting private participation in what have been state monopolies up until now.

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