Johannesburg - Transnet Freight Rail has introduced a timetable for arrivals and departures of its freight trains to improve the reliability and consistency of its services.
CEO Siyabonga Gama said on Tuesday the scheduled services would allow for Transnet to increase the volume of its transports from the producer to the consumer or to South African ports.
"We are in search of volumes."
He said road transport is more heavily relied on than rail at present, despite rail being quicker, cheaper and more environmentally friendly.
"We need to drive more volume from road to rail to assist the economy... the carbon footprint of the rail system, it is far more effective."
Gama said Transnet is not aiming to compete with road freight transport, but to improve South Africa's global market competitiveness.
He said some cargo is also not appropriate for rail, and trucking companies would still need to be relied on.
Previously, train times were inconsistent because of late departures, arrivals and on and offloading times.
Gama said the parastatal planned to roll out a national command centre and "firm up" services in 2008, but plans had to be put on hold because of the recession.
The timetable had been rolled out on the routes between Phalaborwa/Maputo and Richards Bay, Welgeday/Palmford and Uitkyk/Komatipoort.
The remainder of the network is expected to be on a scheduled system by mid-2012, said Gama.