The International Steam Pages

The Sappi Saiccor paper mill at Umkomaas

Alan Sewell writes:

In November 2005 I visited the SAPPI SAICCOR mill at Umkomaas and spend an hour or two photographing the railway operations.

The pulp mill was originally built in the early 1950s on south bank of Umkomaas River up stream from village. This is linked by a private railroad of just under two miles running largely along the river bank and next to a public road to a connection with the SAS electrified Durban/Port Shepstone line just north of Umkomaas station.

The railway is used to deliver inbound raw materials pulp wood from forests north of Durban, coal from Free State mines, limestone from near Port Shepstone and imported sulphur. Finished pulp is shipped by road (due to problems with South African state railways loco and car availability) with much being exported through Durban.

The mill railway works 24 hours a day all year round with shift changes at 8am, 4pm and 12am. Three steam locos are on site, all of which are usable, and these are rotated in use on a four-weekly cycle. All are painted a light blue but this is now getting faded. The working loco 4-8-2 ex-SAR 19D class SAICCOR No.3, built by Robert Stephenson and Hawthorns in 1947, had just started its four weeks in operation. The other two locos (both ex 19D class too) were at the workshops with No.2 the previous working loco being re-tubed for its boiler inspection later in December.

I have recently heard from the mill and they have extensively rebuilt No.2 (in bright blue below) which re-entered traffic in August this year. 

Rob Dickinson