Introducing the Shongololo – the train, whose name means millipede in Zulu. It has the capacity to carry 200 coal wagons, is as long as eight Eiffel Towers laid end-to-end and can haul 16,800 metric tons of coal at 80 kilometers per hour (50 miles per hour) non-stop to the country’s main export port.
The Shongololo is part of a R201 billion ($18.48 billion) rail overhaul and expansion plan aimed at boosting exports of coal, manganese and other commodities from Africa’s biggest economy.
Current diesel-powered trains carry 40 wagons of coal, at top speed of 50 kilometers per hour. The Shongololo, pulling five times as many wagons, can cruise at 80 kilometers per hour! While other coal producing countries grapple with lack of infrastructure, the South African economy is set to benefit as the Shongololo displaces trains that date back to the 1980s.