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Well over 80% of South Africa’s cargo carrying and freighting is done by road. If you live in Durban, you’ll know just how manic the N3 can get between the coast and inland areas like Pietermaritzburg and further towards Johannesburg – thanks to trucks causing havoc between the painted lines. When we think about just how many road accidents occur involving trucks, and just how much greenhouse gas is released by trucks, it’s no wonder there’s a loud call to shift from road to rail freighting.

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Types of freight carried on our roads

Bulk commodities

These are commodities usually shipped in bulk, but which can’t really be palletized for transport. Examples of bulk commodities freighted in South Africa include coal, petroleum products, iron ore, and certain agricultural products.

General freight

This includes commodities that are freighted in smaller quantities than bulk cargo. General freight cargo usually includes perishable, valuable, or fragile products – like food and other fresh produce.

Break bulk

Pack items onto pallets before shipping? Break bulk cargo includes items that can be loaded individually or bundled together (usually on a pallet). Examples include things like bags of cement.

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How does road versus rail freight cost compare?

Other than the multitude of other benefits rail freighting offers, transporting cargo via South Africa’s extensive railroad system will also save money throughout the supply chain. The figures below are shown in an average year, which is estimated to be the year 2032:

Vehicle capital cost

ROAD FREIGHT: R25 billion p/a
RAIL FREIGHT: R2 billion p/a

Infrastructure capital cost

ROAD FREIGHT: R7 billion p/a
RAIL FREIGHT: R4 billion p/a

Vehicle & infrastructure operating cost

ROAD FREIGHT: R424 billion p/a
RAIL FREIGHT: R47 billion p/a

Rail Freight: Safer, Cheaper & Better for the Planet

Sending pallets of goods via rail instead of road offer three core benefits. The goods are safer from being looted should an accident occur, the freighting infrastructure is cheaper to run and maintain, and the whole shift to rail-transported cargo will greatly reduce South Africa’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Keeping cargo safer – whether via road or rail

When we wrap pallets in robust, tear-resistant pallet wrap, we’re investing in the safety and quality of products being transported. There might be less risk of accidents on the rail freighting system, but shifting loads will still be an issue. Order bulk pallet wrap rolls in Durban and make wastages due to unprofessionally packaged pallets.

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