Transnet impresses with revenue
Transnet's results for the financial year to March 2012 show strong growth in rail volumes and revenue.
Freight rail moved an unprecedented 201 million tons (mt) of freight, a 10.4 percent increase compared to the previous year -- the highest tonnage moved in Transnet's history, the parastatal said in a statement.
"This performance includes a significant improvement in the number of trains operated per day. In October 2011, we ran the highest number of trains per day at 1444, [up] from about 800 trains per day in the previous period."
General freight volumes rose 9.9 percent to 81mt from 73.7mt in the previous financial year, while containers on rail increased 21.5 percent to 762,760 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) from 627,825 TEUs, indicating a growth in market share and significant strides in taking rail-friendly cargo off the roads.
Export coal volumes increased by 8.8 percent to 67.7mt from 62.2mt, while iron ore volumes jumped by 13.2 percent to 52.3mt from the previous year's 46.2mt.
Both heavy haul lines achieved record weekly throughput (productivity) levels of 1.7mt and 1.2mt, respectively.
"Our new railways operating strategy is beginning to pay off, with on-time departures and arrivals for general freight business improving by 18.9 percent and 17.7 percent respectively, compared to the previous year."
Group revenue for the year increased by 20.9 percent to R45.9 billion from R38 billion in the previous period, mainly due to growth in volumes in the general freight, export coal, export iron ore, and container volumes, as well as an 18 percent improvement in productivity.
As a consequence of the solid operational performance across the company, Transnet's key measure of profitability, earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation, and amortisation (EBITDA) increased by 19.8 percent to R18.9 billion from last year's R15.8 billion.
This was in spite of a 21.8 percent increase in operating costs to R27 billion from R22.2 billion in the previous period.
The main drivers of the higher expenses were a 46.4 percent increase in material costs, an 18.8 percent increase in personnel costs, as well as a 31.4 percent jump in energy prices.
"These increases were in line with our rising activity levels, accompanied by higher maintenance costs to support volume growth, costs of improving safety in the workplace -- a key priority -- as well as higher electricity tariffs and fuel price increases."
At the ports, port terminals continued to boost efficiency levels with average moves per gross crane hour (GCH) increasing by 8.1 percent to 26.6GCH from 24.6 GCH in the previous period.
Average tons loaded per hour at the Saldanha iron ore terminal improved by 4.1 percent to 7242 tons per hour, and the Richards Bay dry bulk terminal's loading rate was up 2.7 percent to 678 tons per hour.
Improved operational performance in Transnet's operations was accompanied by increased employment.
"During the period, we increased our employee numbers by 3159 people, mainly to support Transnet's investment and operational activities.
"In addition, our activities resulted in the creation of 27,964 new jobs in supplier-related industries across the economy."
Capital investment for the year increased to a record R22.3 billion (excluding capitalised borrowing costs) with R11.6 billion being invested in capacity expansion and R10.7 billion in maintenance of existing capacity.
The year's investment lifted the total amount spent over the past seven years to R115.5 billion, Transnet said.