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SPOTLIGHT | TRANSPORT ENGINEERING


ten years, not a lot has been spent on infrastructure in many countries throughout Europe. A huge number of bridges have been downgraded, so it makes moving heavy loads much more complicated as well as more expensive.” ESTA suggests that the establishment of heavy transport corridors will focus investment on designated routes and therefore reduce costs overall. Te organisation is undertaking a study to produce figures demonstrating what governments could save in infrastructure costs if the corridors are set up. One region where road transport


corridors have gained traction over the past ten years is sub-Saharan Africa. South Africa has been the longstanding ‘gateway to Africa’, with cargoes often hauled by road as far north as the Democratic Republic of Congo. While South Africa retains its


position as the preferred entry point in the region, thanks to its suitably advanced road and port infrastructure, the past decade has seen neighbouring sub-Saharan countries improve their heavy cargo handling capabilities. Zambia, for example, can now choose to move goods through no less than five


ports and has several corridors to choose from; Namibia’s increasingly popular Walvis Bay Corridor and Dar es Salaam (Tanzania) have also emerged as entry points for sub-Saharan projects. Craig Pace, director at South African


transport engineering specialist Vanguard, said in 2017: “Namibia is going out of its way to attract cargo, to build relationships. It is being very progressive and supportive, and I would not be surprised if more and more cargo, originally destined to move through South Africa, ends up moving through Namibian ports.”


Corruption Bribery and corruption, however, have continued to play an active role in Africa’s road haulage sector. “We are in a Tird World country,” said one South African industry source in November/December 2008. “Bribery and corruption can decide whether a permit is granted or not.” Russia is also trying to stamp out


these practices, not least because it wants to harmonise legislation to EU standards, but it has a difficult task ahead of it. As one expert alleged in 2013, most local offices of the Federal


KEEPING RAILFREIGHT ON TRACK


The movement of heavy and oversize cargo by rail has proven to be an important niche mode for project forwarders and specialist rail transport operators – most notably in North America, Russia and to a lesser extent Europe. Germany-based Kübler Spedition entered the European heavy


lift railfreight market in 2015, as failing road infrastructure continued to hinder heavy road hauls. The company has designed new equipment to carry larger and heavier loads and in 2017 it launched its Schnabel, a 24-axle wagon that is able to perform a 600 mm lateral shift and a body roll/tilt. “This allows us to carry wider and longer pieces by rail on more


routes, as we can, for instance, go round sharper bends and under more obstacles than traditional heavy lift rail wagons,” said Thomas Hoffmann, who is responsible for business development and projects at the company. The USA benefits from a rail network that facilitates heavy and


oversize cargo shipments. Countless transformers and generators have been moved on the rails to support the USA’s massive efforts to renew and upgrade the existing power grid, as were wind energy and oil and gas cargoes. SRT Transportation Solutions, Fracht USA, UTC Overseas, HLI Rail & Rigging and Colossal Transport have been prominent players.


76 | HLPFI10


Road Agency work on the basis of corrupt practices, as do the traffic police who control escort cars and route authorisation. Any error on the application, however small, is likely to trigger a request for another payment. Even without corruption to contend


with, the Russian system is very bureaucratic. “It takes months to get permission for a vehicle weighing more than 80 tonnes to move,” said Alexander Shelkov at Instar Logistics, speaking in our March/April 2013 edition. “So most truckers use incorrect road permits showing a reduced weight.” At least in the Middle East, there is


no variation of permit requirements within a country, only between countries – but that can be challenging enough. Regulations change frequently, often at short notice, causing vehicles to be stopped en route. India has also suffered from some of


the problems that characterise other regions: different states set different rules and there are no clear guidelines or timelines for obtaining permits. One journey may require permits from the public works department, the national highways authority, the state electricity boards and the railway board.


In 2010, SRT took delivery of a specially commissioned 20-axle


railcar with a total freight capacity of 450 tonnes, which was developed by Kasgro. Later in 2010, SRT completed the delivery of a 625-tonne reactor vessel, measuring 39.26 m long, from Chicago to a location in Kansas using a 36-axle Schnabel railcar. In February 2014, UTC Overseas commissioned a bespoke 16-


axle, depressed centre railcar for handling project cargoes, with a 12.2 m long centre-deck and a load capacity of over 400 tonnes. UTC said that a lack of railcar availability on the lease market, and increasing size of cargoes, spurred the investment decision. Railfreight is rarely susceptible to the elements, which makes


it ideally suited to oversize transport in Russia. Russian Railways has handled numerous out-of-gauge moves across the country, including in 2015, when freight forwarder RTL coordinated the transport of a 206-tonne reactor from Romania to a construction facility in Nizhnekamsk, Russia.


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