Work on the Majuba Rail Project, an initiative which links the Majuba power station to the national rail network in order to transport coal, is due to be finished early next year. A critical part of the new line hangs in the air above it: a 124km optical fibre network which will improve communications between locomotives and the rail operator in multiple ways.
The fibre network has been designed and supplied by Tedaka Network Solutions, and connects equipment and telecontrol centres along the line with the train operator. The network covers the entire line, and enables the operator to digitise many traditionally manual processes. It also futureproofs the line for deployment of more internet of things-type sensors over time, as new digital solutions for security, safety and productivity are developed.
“The need for fibre is evolving,” says Tedaka’s Operations Director, Pieter van der Merwe. “Traditionally the communications network is used primarily for telephones and voice, but now switching and shunting equipment can all be controlled remotely too.”
Building the network hasn’t been without issues, however. The region is prone to high winds, which have limited the amount of time that engineers can spend working on the overhead lines.
One high point, however, has been working with the local community to upskill workers for the installation project. “We use local labourers, local transport and taxi organisations,” says Van der Merve, “And we train people in professional health and safety procedures as part of that.”
A lasting legacy for a forward-looking project.