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Jan Hendrik Havenga ORCID logo, Zane P. Simpson, Anneke de Bod, Wessel Pienaar ORCID logo



A benchmark of South Africa’s freight rail system confirms that South Africa’s export lines compare favourably globally, but that the general freight sector of the business lags in all key indicators, and there is no clear comparison as far as a rail reform agenda is concerned. Neither a path of deregulation, rationalisation, investment and efficiency, such as in North America, nor one of a development state – network growth and high relative employment, such as in the Russian, Indian and Chinese railways – has been followed in South Africa. These countries, geographically speaking, are significantly bigger than South Africa, but the challenges are similar: long transport distances, high transport demand and spatial issues. This paper indicates how benchmark analysis can be used to inform a rail reform agenda for South Africa’s freight rail system. Although there is a separation in South Africa as to the business model that the railway is allowed to use, current railway management seems to be achieving a turnaround. A more supportive policy environment, informed by benchmarking, might improve this process.

Keywords: Rail Benchmarking, Infrastructure Investment, Rail Reform, South Africa

How to cite this paper: Havenga, J. H., Simpson, Z., de Bod, A., & Pienaar, W. J. (2013). Rail benchmarking – new paradigms: a South African position. Corporate Ownership & Control, 11(1-2), 233-242 . https://doi.org/10.22495/cocv11i1c2art2