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There are several important marshalling yards in KwaZulu- Natal. The most important are described briefly below:

Railway Yards (for freight traffic)

Bayhead (Durban)
The main marshalling yard for Durban is at Bayhead. This very large yard has north and south sections with further sub-divisions into five units The north section alone comprises over 45 roads and is served by a hump to reduce shunting requirements. The Umbilo electric running shed is located adjacent to the yard on the north-east side, while the very large former PX shed is located on to the south-west of the north yard. Container trains use the Kings Rest yard and can by-pass the Bayhead yard for access.

Kings Rest (Durban)
This is the yard which serves the Durban Container Terminal. It is used for incoming and departing container trains, normally consisting of 50 wagon air-brake trains each with a capacity of 100 TEU’s. There are over 30 roads in the main yard which is largely electrified.

Clairwood (Montclair)
This yard is used for incoming timber traffic, liquid fuel traffic and for automobile trains. There are some 10 roads in the yard

Cato Ridge
This yard is not large in terms of the number of roads but it is used for long air- brake trains arriving with ore from up country. This consists of over 550,000 tons of manganese ore which is processes into nearly 200,000 tons of Ferro Manganese for export at Durban.

Masons Mill (Pietermaritzburg)
Masons Mill yard is used mainly for the over 600,000 tons of forestry traffic originating on the branches to Kranskop, Franklin, Richmond, and the sub-branches along these routes. Grain traffic which is received from the north and south is transferred to Victoria yards from where it is distributed by haulier trains to the Willowton industrial area.

Victoria (Pietermaritzburg)
This relatively small yard is the staging point for traffic to and from the Willowton Industrial area, located north of the N3 highway and bounded by the R33 to Greytown. The yard itself is immediately north of the city centre and is also used to load forestry product traffic.

Danskraal (Ladysmith)
Danskraal yard is strategically located to serve train on the Free State main line and the Glencoe – Vryheid line. It is also a crew change point for main line trains and there is an electric locomotive running shed and a maintenance depot for infrastructure requirements including permanent-way work.

The present Newcastle yard was established during the 1970’s when the Newcastle steel mill was moved to its present location to the north-east of Newcastle itself. This included the construction of a completely new line by- passing the town centre and connecting in the north adjacent to the new steelworks.

The yard is used mainly for traffic to the large industrial establishment at Rooipunt and adjacent to the Utrecht line running eastwards. Traffic to some of the industrial establishments including a cement factory producing, amongst other products, over 450,000 tons of slag iron destined to Mount Vernon (in Durban)

Vryheid East (Coal Line)
Vryheid East is a large yard catering for Richards Bay coal traffic, since some of this originates at stations between Ermelo and Vryheid and must be consolidated into long loads. It also caters for coal traffic from the Hlobane branch, as well as over 800,000 tons of imported coking coal from Richards Bay and destined for the Newcastle steel works.

Finally, increasing volumes of forestry traffic originating from Mpumalanga including the Barberton, Graskop and Lothair branches is consolidated into long loads at Vryheid East. How the recent forest fires in Mpumalanga will affewct this traffic is not certain at this stage but it appears that it will have a negative effect on the traffic.

The Empangeni yard is relatively small and has been superseded to a degree by the opening of the coal line and Nseleni yard. Sugar cane traffic from the Nkwalini branch transits this yard and wagon repair work is undertaken at this point.

Coal Terminal (Richards Bay)
This yard is at the coal terminal on a line which is on a loop. Export coal trains cross the old Empangeni – Golela line at Nseleni. And travel down a dedicated line to the coal terminal on the south side of Richard’s Bay itself. The yard feeds the coal terminal which is operated by a private company and which off-loads coal by way of rotary tipplers. There are four such tandem tipplers which have a capacity to offload 5 500 tons an hour while the stockyard can store up to six million tons of coal. With the increasing coal traffic, this terminal and its associated rail infrastructure it to be enlarged in the near future.

Richards Bay Harbour Yard
This is the main yard for the multi-purpose Dry Bulk Terminal. It serves the terminal which has a capacity to handle four million tons of exports and six million tons of imports a year. A significant amount of export traffic arrives at the yard in its raw state and is ‘processed,’ such as roundwood which is delivered to private sidings, chipped, and fed to the port itself by large overhead conveyor systems. Other traffic including chrome, ferro- chrome, titanium slag, vermiculite and steel is brought from the yard to the quayside for handling to ships.

Nseleni (Richards Bay)
Nseleni yard is a staging point for traffic including rock phosphate, magnetite, vermiculate, copper and containers arriving from the north-east on the line from Komatipoort through Swaziland to Golela. It is also used for roundwood traffic routed over the coal line. There is a large diesel shed and repair facility and it is an important crewing point.

Motive Power and Train Operations

Electric locomotives in use on the Durban-Gauteng main line are generally supplied from Gauteng and maintained in that province but there is a locomotive operating and maintenance depot at Danskraal (Ladysmith) which caters for locomotives used on the Free State line and the line from Glencoe to Vryheid. The Umbilo shed at Bayhead caters for electric locos used on the North and South Coast lines, as well as local electric shunting services.

There are diesel maintenance facilities located at Wentworth (in Durban), Masons Mill (in Pietermaritzburg) and Nseleni near Richards Bay. They are described in the Maintenance of infrastructure and rolling stock section.

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