BEAUTIFUL PICTURES send the wrong message as to what will be delivered. The writers could change that and send a really powerful “this is possible message” if they focused on the engineering specifications.
Better news reporting can make a difference. I urge them to improve on an otherwise good publication.
The April 2015 issue of CBTL-WATCH AFRICA is a very well laid out and professionally scoped marketing tool for the ocean carrier. It presents colorful to look at and generally well written subject themes for the various geographic sections of its Africa maritime business.
The authors put the best face forward in describing the announced railway modernization projects in this one April issue. The photo cover of the marketing document is beautiful.
Unfortunately, almost none of the modern railway operation pictured in that cover — or later in a page dedicated to Zambia –DRC modernized service — will occur under the current African rail plans.
A due diligence investigative report would quickly note that the image of the massive and highly efficient doublestacked container trains in the photos CANNOT OPERATE on the currently proposed rail lines in the story. In fact, from an engineering and economics technical view, NOT A SINGLE AFRICAN PROPOSED FREIGHT RAILWAY WILL BE ABLE TO OFFER DOUBLESTACK CONTAINER FREIGHT SERVICE using their current proposed engineering guidelines.
Because the tracks and infrastructure bridges of these new railways WITH DOUBLESTACK CAPABILITIES would have to support 1) 33 to 35 metric ton axle loads, 2) trains lengths of about 2,500 to 3,400 meters, and 3) vertical clearances above the top of the rail head in the 6.1 to 6.2 meter range (if a diesel electric locomotive operation) and in the range of 6.8+meters if an electrified line.
Neither the reporters on these stories or the ministers doing the technical planning are focused on these fundamental yet missing design standards.
The result is sort of like announcing a new international airport plan, but the runways and terminal ramps will not accommodate modern B-777 or A380 aircraft. In aviation, that would get you fired.
I am hoping that a future issue of this otherwise great news magazine will correct these mistakes. Please, at least do not tease the audience with a picture image that technically will not happen. Unless someone changes the engineering design.
If the authors can use this technical rail intelligence in future issues, perhaps they can influence modernization changes to the plans. Such engineering change would truly benefit their African customers. Because doublestack trains are about 35% to 45% more efficient than the current African rail plans will allow.