Investigation into factors contributing to derailments: effect of rolling stock maintenance

Nkosi, Sizwe Paris
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Transnet Freight Rail (TFR) is the largest division of Transnet transporting bulk and containerised freight along the vast rail network across South Africa. With its revitalisation programme of infrastructure and rolling stock, TFR plans to reverse the decline in railway services where a huge market share was transferred from rail to road. The Market Demand Strategy (MDS) was implemented for this purpose, where focus was shifted back to how well the company can satisfy the customer by meeting market demand (Transnet, 2012). Due to operational inefficiencies and unfavourable market conditions, TFR has yet to meet the targets set out in the MDS. Operational occurrences have also contributed to unfavourable railway safety performance which also negatively impacted on TFR meeting the MDS targets. An example of a frequently occurring operational occurrence is that of derailments. Derailments continue to affect the business and progress of the MDS with 80 line derailments reported for the 2017/18 financial year (Transnet , 2018). Hutchings (2017) states this is despite the fact that incidents are investigated, recommendations made and awareness of safety incidents promoted throughout the company. This study aims at investigating the major contributing factors leading to derailments with the hope of shining the spot light on these. A particular focus was on the effects of rolling stock maintenance as a possible contributor to these occurrences. 17% of mainline derailments were found to be contributed by rolling stock. Unavailability of specification was found to be leading cause of maintenance problems. This led to deviation from processes. By understanding the factors that impact on the number of derailments, the author hopes that the company can eliminate operational inefficiencies and run scheduled railways more efficiently. In this way the service provided to the customer can be improved
A report submitted to the School of Mechanical, Industrial and Aeronautical Engineering, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the MEng degree, 2020