Transnet Freight Rail has reported heavy damage to the rail link into the Port of Port Elizabeth after rough sea conditions pummelled the port’s rail infrastructure at the weekend.
TFR said in a statement on Monday that the severe weather conditions had caused a wash-away of the track formation on the rail link that branches from the mainline into the Algoa Bay Yard, where trains are received and dispatched.
This comes after the South African Weather Service (SAWS) issued another three weather alerts warning of “dangerous waves” for Cape Town, Cape Agulhas and Hermanus on Tuesday morning, after damaging waves hit the country’s coastline between Richards Bay and Plettenburg Bay over the past few days.
“Rough seas brought on by unforeseen abnormal spring tides have washed away parts of the railway for approximately 500 meters and pushed large rocks, debris and sand onto the track for approximately 1000 meters.
This has heavily impacted the Manganese flow into Gqeberha as train movements are temporarily suspended,” a statement issued by the rail division of the logistics utility said.
TFR added that it is now exploring contingency plans such as using the Port Elizabeth station as a bypass into and out of the port, although this option will result in reduced operations.
“The adverse sea conditions have not yet fully subsided.
“A recovery team has been dispatched to begin repair work and to clear debris in inaccessible areas.
“The major repairs will be conducted during the coming week which is dependent on favourable weather conditions,” TFR said.
“We continue to monitor the weather forecast to ensure the safety of our teams working on the recovery.
“Normal operations will resume promptly after the line has been repaired and declared safe for train movement.
“Customers have been notified about the extent of the infrastructure damage and the resultant impact on operations.”
SAWS’ latest weather alert warned that dangerous waves could be expected at points on the Western Cape Coast at Hermanus, Cape Agulhas and Cape Town.
“Difficulty in navigation at sea for small vessels and watercraft (for example, kayaks) is expected. Localised disruption of small harbours and/or ports could also occur.
“Small vessels are at risk of taking on water and capsizing in a locality. Localised disruption to beachfront activities is also possible,” Saws warned in today’s alerts (19 September).