Cable theft disrupts Majuba Power Station coal deliveries by rail
6 July 2022
The recent spike in cable theft incidents in the country has critically constrained coal by rail to the Majuba Power Station. At the heart of this constraint, is that the portion of the network (which is owned by Eskom) that feeds directly into Majuba has been severely damaged by the theft of overhead cables and critical overhead track equipment. Eskom has been unable to restore the overhead track equipment.
As part of contractual arrangements between TFR and Eskom, TFR delivers coal trains to the Majuba Power Station at a maximum of three trains per day in line with the current capacity of the Eskom owned section of the line. TFR could previously run six trains per day. However as a result of rampant cable theft and vandalism the system is now constrained to three trains per day. TFR's electrically powered mainline locomotives are unable to deliver trains directly to the Majuba Power station. TFR is therefore forced to change to diesel locomotives, which are already limited, for the last leg of the trip, which leads to train delays and operational difficulties due to damaged overheads.
A new spike in cable theft incidents on the Container Corridor and in the Delmas - Ogies area have made even the three trains per day impossible to achieve. The cable theft in the Delmas - Ogies area have not only affected TFR operations, but have led to numerous train cancellations by customers due to disruptions of mine operations.
On 5 July 2022 two guards were attacked (one killed and another critically injured) during a cable theft incident in the Sentrarand area. This highlights the gravity of what TFR contends with daily. In this particular incident, 804m of cable was stolen. Sentrarand forms part of the Central Corridor which serves as crucial junction feeding into all corridors — incidents in this region have devastating ripple effects across the network.