The first phase of the comprehensive Broodsnyersplaas - Richards Bay railway line and harbour project, one of the largest development schemes ever undertaken by the SA Railways and Harbours Administration, was opened to traffic on 1 April 1976. In this paper the scheme is reviewed historically while the more salient features concerning the overall planning and objectives of the integrated scheme, the nature and magnitude of which called for the closest liaison between many organizations, are discussed.
The paper descriptionbes the design, planning and construction of the railway line running from the Transvaal coalfields near Broodsnyersplaas through Ermelo, Vryheid, Ulundi and terminating at Richards Bay, a total route distance of 500 km.
The paper descriptionbes the intensive investigations, data collection and model studies that had to be carried out before it could be decided that conditions were acceptable and the postulated norms could be achieved for the construction and operation of a harbour at Richards Bayfor large bulk carriers.
An integrated transport infrastructure complex of the magnitude of the Richards Bay project, comprising a 509-km railway line linking South Africa's rich coal reserves with a modern deep-water harbour, will certainly have numerous benefits for the entire country. Firstly it unlocks a relatively underdeveloped part of the country for further economic exploitation and secondly it provides South Africa's mineral resources with a gateway to world markets. The foreign exchange expected to be generated by these exports will, over the longer term, strengthen South Africa's balance of payments position considerably.