We work extensively with Transnet Freight Rail, South Africa’s largest freight rail company, which is the largest division of Transnet with approximately 25,000 employees throughout the country. The company maintains an extensive rail network across South Africa that connects with other rail networks in the sub-Saharan region, representing about 80% of Africa’s total rail infrastructure.

Capacity development in railway operations

In 2012, President Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma, President of South Africa announced in his State of the Nation Address that Transnet would invest more than R300bn in infrastructure development to rejuvenate the economy, create jobs and address poverty and inequalities. Of this amount, R201bn has been channelled to Transnet Freight Rail to expand its rail infrastructure to create capacity and increase cargo volumes. Through investment, Transnet Freight Rail will be able to optimise its capital portfolio, build a world class capital execution function and leverage capital procurement and localisation.

By 2019, Transnet Freight Rail aims to increase its market share of container traffic from 79% to 92%. By introducing the programme, Transnet aims to set a benchmark for the railway industry and pave the way for the future development of young talent for the benefit of the organisation.

Investing in people

Following a successful pilot programme in South Africa, the School for Work Based Education secured a five-year contract to deliver a BSc Railway Operations Management as part of Transnet Freight Rail’s operations capacity building strategy.

Delivered in partnership with the University of Johannesburg and the Institution of Railway Operators, 700 rail operations professionals from across the business have benefited from this partnership to date and a further 220 students per year will be recruited.

The programme incorporates a work based learning model which enables students to apply their knowledge and have the benefit of reflective practice in the classroom to fine-tune the skills they have acquired on their learning journey. A BSc in Railway Operations Management is attained after 3 years.

Plans to expand the partnership with Transnet include the introduction of an Honours dimension to the existing BSc and to launch a Masters programme for qualifying students in 2016. Furthermore, a Rail Cadet programme is set to launch in the same year to encourage young people from impoverished backgrounds to have the opportunity to make a career in the rail industry.