We recently completed a ~800km Greenfield Railway Feasibility Study in Namibia. The line connected to the country’s existing network at Grootfontein and traversed the Trans-Zambezi to Katima Mulilo, (see images below).

Connecting to Namibia’s existing rail network and ultimately, the Walvis Bay Port, the “Trans-Zambezi Railway” (TZR) Line is expected to attract transit traffic from the region, putting the country on a path to becoming a premier logistics hub.

We used a non-linear optimisation model to develop a 50-year freight forecast. We also ran a number of scenarios to determine how traffic on the TZR would change if Namibia’s neighbours developed complementary or competing railway projects.

The modeling results were not all that surprising – the region can benefit from having additional port evacuation capacity for import and export cargo. And, with Walvis Bay Port connected by rail through to Katima Mulilo, the TZR is expected to attract significantly more transit traffic than it currently does.

Our modeling results were aligned with what we heard during regional stakeholder consultations with freight generators (e.g., mining companies), shippers and transport associations.

Good news for Namibia right? Well, it turns out that all this additional transit traffic will create train trips to and from Walvis Bay Port to Katima Mulilo that would otherwise not be there without the proposed TZR.

These additional trips would contribute to Namibia’s Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Inventory (see image below).

BUT, the proposed line will also take a significant amount of trucks off the road that are currently traveling to and from other ports in the region.

So, what is the net impact? Based on a set of GHG emission and social cost assumptions retrieved from the US EPA and IPCC, the net impact at a regional level is positive with overall GHG inventories reduced by developing the TZR.

Basically, each transit freight trainload between Walvis Bay and Katima Mulilo reduces regional truck traffic by 51 trucks. While the TZR will increase Namibia’s GHG inventory, the region stands to benefit from a reduction in GHGs by having significantly fewer trucks on the road.