4 December 2012

Namibia: Coastal Railway to Reopen

THE railway line behind Dune 7, where two TransNamib locomotives and 17 wagons derailed on Saturday, should be reopened today.

This was said by TransNamib’s senior manager of engineering, Kunetsa Kufakowadya.

TransNamib suffered a loss of more than N$65 million to its infrastructure and rolling stock. Purity Manganese also suffered a substantial blow as the 17 wagons were fully loaded with manganese being transported to Walvis Bay harbour.

Kufakowadya said the undamaged wagons were pulled back to the nearby Rand Rifles siding. The mixed train (with goods wagons and passenger coaches) that managed to stop before colliding with the derailed train was also parked at the siding.

All 85 passengers who travelled on the mixed train from Windhoek to Walvis Bay were transported from the accident scene by bus. The mixed train locomotive was used for the recovery operation.

A bulldozer, front-end loaders, tipper trucks and a 500-ton crane were also used in the recovery.

Final lifting and recovery of the locomotives and wagons started yesterday, but Kufakowadya said that the process could possibly go into a fourth day.

“[Tuesday] will be dedicated for the process of reconstructing the damaged railway track and it is therefore anticipated that before the end of business on Tuesday, the main line will be opened for train operations,” he stated.

The accident happened at about 06h15 on Saturday. According to TransNamib’s acting CEO Eugenia Tjaronda, preliminary investigations and witness reports to the police indicated that a lorry got stuck on the railway line the night before the accident. As a result, the railway line was damaged.

“Unfortunately this incident was not reported to the TransNamib team in order to stop trains until the railway line was repaired,” she said.

By the time the train driver saw the gap in the line it was too late.

Tjaronda said that the police were investigating and that the company already had its suspicions about who the owner of the truck is.

The train driver was treated for shock and his assistant was taken to hospital for injuries to his ribs, but according to Tjaronda, he is “alright again”. None of the passengers on the mixed train were hurt.

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