Swaziland's Public Works and Transport Minister Mr Nthuthuko Dlamini said last week that an environmental impact study still needs to be completed and there are also issues concerning land acquisition. Nonetheless, he expects construction to commence in the third quarter of 2014.

The 1067mm-gauge line will relieve the congested Ermelo-Richards Bay heavy-haul corridor, and will primarily be used by general freight traffic, although it will be built for 26-tonne axleloads to permit the operation of heavy-haul coal trains if required.

The project involves upgrading Transnet's line from Davel to Ermelo and Lothair, where trains will run onto a new 146km alignment which will cross the border to join the existing Swaziland Railways line from Matsapha to Phuzumoya at Sidvokodvo.