The development of a high-speed rail link between Johannesburg and Durban could potentially remove between 1.9-million tons and 3.6-million tons a year of freight volumes off South Africa's roads, a prefeasibility study (PFS) has found.
Speaking at the second South Africa-Japan Railway conference, in Midrand, on Monday, Japan International Consultants for Transportation technology headquarters senior manager Yoshimasa Sakon said that, by 2050, the current Johannesburg-Durban rail system would carry freight volumes of 600 000 t/y.
However, with the development of a R160-billion high-speed rail route, based on Japan's Shinkansen rail, the volume could reach between 2.5-million and 4.2-million tons a year.
The study, which was undertaken from August 2011 to February 2012, compared three routes from Johannesburg to Durban, including a railway running parallel to the current system, navigating through Newcastle.
The high-speed rail development could reduce travelling time for passengers to three hours, travelling at 300 km/h, from morning to late evening, while freight transport time could be reduced to five hours, at 160 km/h during the night.
Sakon also pointed out that a passenger high-speed rail system – with a 600- to 900-person capacity on an 8- to 12-car configuration – between the two cities could potentially carry 15 000 to 17 000 travellers a day by 2025, and between 33 000 and 38 000 a day by 2050.
This was compared with the current forecast of 600 000 train travellers, 2.2-million vehicles and 3.9-million air travellers expected to travel between Johannesburg and Durban each year by 2050.
Further, the PFS revealed that the project had the potential to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to between 900 000 t/y and 1.8-million tons a year and nitrogen oxide emissions by between 3 000 t/y and 7 000 t/y by 2050.
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