Africa steers rail transport innovation


“The conventional system that’s currently used is a system of linkages that sort of allows the wheels to turn – that’s how you’ll go around a curve. What we’ve been capable of doing, and this is a world first, is actually to do this hydraulically, which gives us, using a hydraulic, both positive and negative pressures to steer the wheels,” the DCD group’s managing director Rob King told CNBC Africa on Thursday.

DCD group recently launched an innovative system for locomotives. It’s set to reduce operating and maintenance costs for rail operators, and transform railway logistics.

“We’ve found, compared to the conventional system, we can extend the lifetime of a wheel by a factor of three times. We can also reduce energy by at least three to five per cent, and then you’ve got to consider that all impacts on the rail ware at the same time,” King explained.


“Most countries like South Africa are trying to provide local business and, in that instance, we have to partner in certain countries to do some of the work in the country. We are finding that the financing objectives are actually quite challenging for those infrastructure builders.”

The heavy engineering solutions provider operates in rail as well as mining and energy, defence and marine. King indicated that the group also sees immense potential in its marine and mining divisions in Africa.

“We certainly see that the oil and gas sector, if I take the marine business, what we’re doing in the West coast and East coast, is of interest. There’s close to 90 drill ships and oil rigs operating off the West coast, there’s four operating off the East coast, but we can see that doubling almost every year. From an oil and gas perspective, that’s where we see it,” he said.

“On rail, it’s really driven by the commodities. If you look at the West African environment, particularly the iron ore element of that, and the again East Africa and Mozambique with the coal deposits, we see the opportunities, both in rail as well as in our mining sector.”