NEXT MONTH is due to see the formal launch of Trans-Africa Railway Corp, an international venture to operate rail freight services from Johannesburg to the countries of central and East Africa (RG 2.98 p82). Among TARC shareholders are Spoornet of South Africa and its joint venture concessionaire Comozar which includes Transurb of Belgium.
Through the Southern Africa Railway Association, TARC has negotiated a 20-year agreement to run 1067mm gauge freight trains in South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Zambia, and over the Tazara corridor to Dar-es-Salaam.
TARC is investing R15m in a new transhipment terminal at Kidatu, near Katumba on the Tazara line in Tanzania. It is buying 15 diesel locos and 200 wagons from Spoornet for R40m, and regauging them to 1000mm; six locos have already been sent to Tanzania. Traffic for Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, Kenya and the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo (ex-Zaire) will continue from Kidatu over TRC tracks to the lake ports of Kikoma and Mwanza. Traffic to Uganda and Kenya will travel by train ferry from Mwanza to Kampala and by rail to Nairobi.
According to TARC investor Mark Gordon, a twice-weekly train will start running in May. Journey times are estimated at a week from Johannesburg to Kidatu and another week to Kampala. Johannesburg - Kampala traffic using coastal shipping between Durban and Dar-es-Salaam takes six weeks. o