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Intermodal Transport Facility (ITF) with Transnet Freight Rail

Areail view of the Intermodal Trabsport Facility (ITF) located within the LEIP site, which is strategically situated at the northern-most tip of South Africa, adjoining the Limpopo River which forms the border with Zimbabwe, and ideally positioned for easy access into Southern Africa Developing Countries (SADC) markets.

ITF Project Summary

Intermodal freight transport involves the transportation of freight in an intermodal container using multiple modes of transportation (e.g. ships, railways and road trucks) without any handling of the freight itself when changing modes. The intended outcome of the ITF project is to reduce cargo handling, improve security, reduce damage and loss, and allow freight to be transported faster and more efficiently. TFR has publicly stated that the ITF at Musina is part of their national strategic plan due to its location near the Zimbabwe border. TFR’s major objectives are (1) to enable much larger volumes and improved handling of freight near the Beitbridge border post, and (2) to reduce freight handling in the Durban Port to facilitate decongesting their container traffic. Other objectives are to optimise loading, unloading and stockpiling operations to improve efficiency, lower carbon footprints of producers transportation operators, give more customers access to the rail network, reduce congestion, improve the environment, and to plan for future expansion phases, to keep the terminal competitive for a wide range of potential future scenarios. These outcomes are clearly measurable in terms of unit quantities, cost per unit, delivery times, new customers, carbon footprint and numbers of operational issues.

As a result of this ITF project, TFR will be able to comprehensively address Limpopo and Zimbabwe regional intermodal service and logistic land needs, particularly for agri-produce, retail goods and multiple types of materials. The ITF will also improve South Africa’s penetration into the domestic SADC market, integrating agricultural and manufacturing production sectors into SADC freight distribution and marketing networks, increasing the ITF business competitiveness, economic activity and employment opportunities.

The following Objectives were used to address the needs of the stakeholders, namely Users, Owners/Operator and the Communities surrounding the LEIP Intermodal Terminal Facility at Musina:

  1. The logistical (operational) desirability for the Users (i.e. Transport operators, Forwarders, Consignors and Consignees), including minimisation of the cost of transport, the reliability and the frequency of the service, the types of services offered by the terminal, and connections with other transport modes;

  2. The financial viability and sustainability of the ITF for the Owner/ Operator TFR, including the future possibility to expand the terminal to increase the capacity of the system;

  3. The environmental, traffic and economic impacts on the local Communities.

The final design concept was selected from 5 different optional layouts. Transnet’s decision on the final physical and operational layout of the terminal was made on many factors including the expected traffic forecasts, available site size, labour market conditions, cost structure and environmental impacts.

Intermodal Transport Facility (ITF) layout 

ITF operations through LEIP

The Intermodal Terminal Facility is the most important Logistics requirement for the LEIP, forming the core infrastructure for transport and logistics connectivity linking rail and road transport modes, and enables value added services in support of the supply chain. The terminal is located in an area just north of Musina, adjacent to approximately four kilometres of low gradient, straight TFR mainline and close to the N1 highway. Certain planned developments, for example modifications to the N1, are already on their way and nearing completion.

The ITF project will house various terminals; infrastructure and operations to carry out the ITF project: 

  1. Dry Port Container Terminal with Customs Control, Logistics Hub and Break Bulk Activities

The dry goods section will consist of the following elements to fulfill its function of handling containerised and break bulk/bulk cargo.

1.1. Container Transfer Facility

This Container Transfer Facility area will have the following facilities:

  • Full container stacking area primarily focused on inbound and outbound full container loads

  • Customs-bonded container stacking area which would hold containers in anticipation of loading or unloading from rail

  • Container handlers, either reach-stackers or gantries, depending on space constraints to allow for redundancy

  • Empty container handlers which can take both 6 m and 12 m containers

  • Allied to the container operating area, provision should be made for a vehicle parking area catering for super-link or interlink combinations, as well as trailers

  • In order to ensure future-proofing, provision will be made for future establishment of a bi-mod loading and unloading facility.

1.2. Warehouse Facilities

For the LEIP Intermodal Terminal the following warehouses are proposed:

LCL containers: Less than Container Loads (LCL) loads would be received under customs control, de-stuffed from containers, and placed in the warehouse awaiting formal customs clearing before being moved to a dispatch area.

Associated/Independent warehouses: These are either bonded or free, and receive and store goods on behalf of clients.

Storage of Bulk and Other Types of Cargo: These cargos may require open or covered hard standing areas. In the case of certain bulk chemicals such as fertilizer, there will be bunkers provided.

2. Container Management and Storage

2.1. Empty Container Park

When containers have been unpacked and are awaiting return or reloading, there is a need, on behalf of agents or shipping lines, to hold empty containers in a secure area.

2.2. Container Repair Facility

The terminal requires a facility to clean and repair empty containers damaged in transit.

2.3.Liquids Terminal: Wet Goods Area

A liquid terminal, if environmentally acceptable, may consist of individual tanks to store wet products in a safe environment and keep enough stock to satisfy the needs of the defined market.

3.  Access Requirements
   3.1. Railhead
The rail connection will be established within the LEIP as a private siding adjacent the existing Transnet mainline.
   3.2. Road Transporters
An area for Road Hauliers to wait for access into the terminal and to replenish their fuel etc, and a workshop area for light maintenance.

4. Security and Safety
The complete terminal area must be fully fenced and secured to ensure that cargo is removed only when the full customs clearing function has been completed and revenues paid.The complete terminal area must be fully fenced and secured to ensure that cargo is removed only when the full customs clearing function has been completed and revenues paid.

5. Administrative Office Space

The ITF terminal administrative office facility will also offer space for a variety of logistics service providers such as clearing and forwarding agents, consolidators, and related agencies to provide third-party services.

Location of ITF

Land pre-allocated for development of the LEIP intermodal terminal consists of the open space between Musina- and Nyundo stations, adjacent a 4km straight section of TFR mainline. The following aerial image and GIS diagram depicts this area:

The LEIP site is strategically situated at the northern-most tip of South Africa, adjoining the Limpopo River which forms the border with Zimbabwe, and ideally positioned for easy access into Southern Africa Developing Countries (SADC) markets. The site area comprises approximately 6 464 hectares (ha) of contiguous land, located within the urban boundary of Musina Local Municipality, stretching north to the Limpopo River, on both sides of the N1 national highway and railway.

SANRAL has provided a plan for future road developments linking to the N1 freeway. Access to and from the terminal must integrate with these plans.

Aerial image and GIS diagram depicting the LEIP ITF area 

LEIP Concept for ITF

The Limpopo Eco-Industrial Park (LEIP) development near Musina aims to become the world's first zero solid-waste eco-industrial park. The LEIP will provide facilities and services to house various heavy industrial plants as well as associated side and downstream related industrial businesses. Among the services required for the LEIP development, is an intermodal terminal which efficiently links rail and road transport modes, as well as provides value added services in support of the supply chain. This intermodal terminal will form the backbone core infrastructure for transport and logistics connectivity of the LEIP and its stakeholders.

An area just north of Musina, adjacent to approximately 4 km of straight TFR mainline and close to the N1 highway, has been identified and earmarked for development of this terminal. Certain planned developments, for example modifications to the N1, have already been proposed and are available for consideration to support traffic connectivity.

For the purpose of the LEIP intermodal terminal’s concept development, the following capacity tiers are proposed to demonstrate the layouts’ potential impact during staged development:

  • Start-up capacity: 50 000 TEUs / annum

  • Mid-sized capacity: 180 000 TEUs / annum

  • Eventual capacity: 400 000 TEUs / annum

LEIP ITF site location