Sishen OreLink Yard (Last modified 2004-Sep-19)

Please click on the images to see a larger image and a brief description.



The load out facility for the 50 kv ac iron ore trains is located near the town of Kathu. To access the facility, enter onto the mine access road from route R380, and sign in at the mine office. R380 is the road from Kathu to Hotazel and beyond.

I had arrived mid-day and the sun was straight up. Not so good for photography. The railway staff were expecting an empty ore train to arrive around 14:45 or thereabouts. In the meantime, one of the electricians acted as my safety guide and I went on a brief visit to the yard.

Note: The 3 kv dc load out facility is located elsewhere and I did not visit that site.


AC and Diesel Locomotive Yard.

In the load out yard I found a single 9E #007. The sunlight angle was such that I could only manage a back shot of the unit. The remainder of my time was used to take images of details: cab interior, bogies, etc.

As the image below shows, the 9E class of electrics have a step down roof profile to accommodate the pantograph equipment. This causes one to hunch down while traversing the aft passageway.

Many a head-bangers in these units!

Trailing End of 9E #0007


9E #007 Cabin

The cabin of this 9E class locomotive is shown in the following images.

The first image shows the radio layout as located above the driver's window. The next three images on the same row show the layout of the driver's panel. These units are setup the same as any other Spoornet electric locomotive, power controls on the left side, braking on the right side.

The last two images show the overall driver's side of the cabin and the front end access door. The door, unlike the 7E class of ac units, is not full height. This causes the user to duck down while crossing between the units. Not something I would want to do at 50 km/h on a dark bumpy night!

9E #0007 Radio Set 9E #0007 Driver's Panel 9E #0007 Motor Control Stand 9E #0007 Panel
9E #0007 Driver's Chair 9E #0007 Front Access Hatch


50 KV AC Overhead.

50 kv ac traction power is rather interesting. Or perhaps I should say - spooky.

If you stand real still and listen upward you will here the 50 kv sizzle. Nothing like hearing that high voltage sizzle just above one's head to make one think twice about standing on the trackage.

The line voltage is not always 50 kv, but as these images were taken at a traction power feeder location, the line voltage is near to 50 kv.

The first image shows the Eskom feeder station (the step-down transformer is located elsewhere) and the second image shows the feeds to the centenary. Notice how small the feeds are in diameter. The whole yard setup is extremely simplified and it resembles streetcar overhead power supply construction.

The third image shows how the overhead design for the yard trackage is held in tension by the conventional pulley-weight system. Notice out in the distance a concrete weight keeping the contact wire in tension.

Traction Feed Station Traction Feed Droppers to Trolley Wire Yard Overhead - Simple


Empty Ore Train Arriving

As expected, the empty ore train did arrive around 14:45.

Three class 9E electrics and one class 34 diesel acting as the booster.

The idea of using diesels as booster units goes way back to the United States when the Milwaukee Road Pacific Extension added diesels to assist the electrics over the steep western grades. That railway called the diesel boosters - Sputniks. The Milwaukee Road Pacific Extension never made it to the see the year 1980 and railway deregulation, only the roadbed and a few segments (non-electrified) of the former Pacific Extension exist. A real shame.

If interested in the Milwaukee electrics, books by author Noel T. Holley are very informative. For example, "The Milwaukee Electrics", by Noel T. Holley, printed in the year 1987, ISBN 0-934088-14-4.

As shown in the below three images. The train arrived, the locomotives uncoupled from the train, I climbed aboard, and the locomotive consist was turned by running it around the balloon loop. What was interesting this day was the overhead power on the loop had been switched off. So the driver had no problem as the diesel booster did the honours of pushing the 3 heavy 9E electrics around the loop and back into the yard.

Train Arriving EOT Device and Booster Controller Diesel Booster 34-507