Spoornet has budgeted to spend R514m on infrastructure maintenance projects in the 2006-07 financial year. Much of this will be invested in the primary freight corridors used by the General Freight Business.

R103m will be spent on tamping, screening and ballast renewal to improve the lateral stability of the track, reduce the risk of buckling in hot weather and improve geometry. Another R150m will go on replacing rails, sleepers and other track components to restore the integrity of the track structure and reduce the risk of derailment.

Refurbishment and rationalisation of signalling to improve the reliability and flexibility of train operations is expected to account for a further R50m. In addition, minor infrastructure works are budgeted to total R211m.

The railway will spend R442m this year on improving and renewing its locomotive fleet. A ’mini-overhaul’ programme for diesel locos of Classes 34, 35 and 37 will see all critical components overhauled, the control systems rewired, and outstanding modifications completed at a cost of R73·5m.

Similar overhaul programmes for the 7E, 6E1 and 8E electric loco classes are budgeted at R12·4m, R75·5m and R7·5m respectively. The Class 10E1 locos will be put through Series 2 general overhauls with component renewal, modifications and full body repaints at a cost of R10·3m.

The overhaul programmes are expected to improve the availability of each class of locomotive by 5% and reliability by 15%.

Another R94m has been allocated for heavy repairs on 93 diesel and electric locomotives currently stored due to extensive accident damage. As well as increasing the number of locos available, the work is expected to improve availability by 5%.

The biggest single item in this year’s locomotive budget is R123·1m to create a float of spare parts and critical components at depots around the network, which will reduce the amount of time that locos are held out of traffic awaiting spares.

Finally, R38·5m will go on various small traction projects such as bogie overhauls and components repairs, which will also help to increase locomotive availability and reliability, and improve train handling and safety.

Spoornet has also allocated R305·8m for improvements to its wagon fleet in 2006-07. By far the biggest element of this is R205·8m to fund scheduled maintenance on 24460 wheelsets, eliminating a huge backlog in this area. R68m is allocated for repair of wagons currently stored out of service, reducing the wagon maintenance backlog by 1362 vehicles.

A further improvement in wagon availability will come through the renovation of 636 vehicles damaged in accidents but not yet repaired, at a cost of R31·8m. These measures should increase available capacity to meet the current fleet plan, bringing an overall improvement of 10% in wagon availability and 15% in asset reliability.

In addition, a further R112m will go on minor maintenance work and repairs to 6672 wagons, improving availability and reducing the number of failure incidents on the road. One specific issue to be addressed in this programme is the incidence of hollow tyre faces and flange wear.

CAPTION: The Class 10E1 electric loco fleet is being put through a Series 2 general overhaul programe costing R10m, which will improve both availability and reliability