Locale : Global (English)
Freight on track

Freight rail

Mott MacDonald has over 100 years’ experience delivering leading edge solutions to a wide range of clients for heavy haul logistics and infrastructure projects.

Mott MacDonald’s rail team serves national and local governments, transport operators, industry, mining houses, utility providers, developers, contractors, commercial companies, banks, funding agencies and non-governmental organisations. We stay closely attuned to all our customers’ varying needs and aspirations, working in partnership to turn their ideas into reality through innovative and sustainable solutions.

We provide comprehensive consultancy services covering every facet of transport and civil engineering through the project and systems lifecycle, from concept to commissioning. Our portfolio of work has seen us involved in every phase of development on projects ranging from multi-modal transport logistics solutions through to heavy haul freight infrastructure projects.

Customer focus

We provide clients with all aspects of heavy haul rail capability from concept through to commissioning. Our extensive experience spans development of all facets of rail freight engineering, from multi-modal networks and terminals through to the design of new-build dedicated rail freight networks.

Within our global transport business we have a wealth of experienced and skilled professionals from which we can mobilise multidisciplinary teams tailored to providing a total service. From engineering to project management; from individual consultancy commissions to a complete project; from a single inspection report to major new transport schemes; including concept, pre-feasibility, feasibility, detail design, procurement, construction supervisions and commissioning – we undertake all aspects of heavy haul engineering and management through the project and systems lifecycles.

The requirements of our clients are the focus of our attention at all times in the planning and delivery of projects. By maintaining this approach, in which no detail is too small, we have many successful and long-term client relationships.

We understand the importance of integrated design of the entire freight transport corridor from origin to destination. To achieve this objective, as part of the design process, we also manage the interfaces between the railway, materials handling facilities and port, with knowledge of the related mining operations.

To provide a holistic and robust integrated heavy haul transport solutions, we also utilise the experience of our maritime and ports teams and mining capability to provide the necessary interfaces and infrastructure to support client export and import objectives.

Evidenced value

Transnet National Infrastructure Plan, South Africa

We assisted Transnet Planning in the production of the National Infrastructure Plan (NIP) to brief both government departments and the wider Transnet community on an overall framework to optimise the future planning, development and investment decision making related to the expansion of the national rail and port infrastructure network. The NIP was created from a series of studies undertaken to integrate the development of rail and ports throughout South Africa. These studies determined current capacity of the rail system and highlighted constraints that occurred as demand increased over a 30 year period.

Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation (ENRC) PLC Coal Transportation Logistics Project, Mozambique

We developed the design, concept to outline, of a 1200km standard gauge, prestigious, heavy haul freight railway line in Mozambique to cater for an initial export of 40Mtpa of thermal coal escalating to 100Mtpa in coming years. Our work included the technical and commercial evaluation on the feasibility of the project. A logistics system approach was initially adopted with routes allowing options for road, rail, aerial ropeway and/or barging transport to the existing ports. Capacity analyses for port and land transport infrastructure were undertaken to assess “breakpoints” in production schedules.

A thorough risk analysis of each of the routes was undertaken to identify the flaws, including environmental and social considerations. An economic evaluation of each of the routes was undertaken to assign each a ranking in terms of FOB (USD/t) for each specific tonnage identified. We then undertook outline design for the selected option and developed the design, build and operate tender documentation to enable the client to procure the contractor and operator of the railway, materials handling yards and port.

Ministry of Railways Procurement of Rolling Stock, India

We supported the Indian Ministry of Railways in its procurement of approximately 1000 electric locomotives over a 10 year period, together with an associated maintenance contract. Our knowledge of best practice in rolling stock procurement, including such areas as contract structure, maintenance arrangements, technical specification, achieving high levels of reliability and availability, the supply of spare parts and the management of damage and vandalism and bidding process support proved invaluable.

Oakajee Port & Rail Pty Ltd (OPR) Systems Engineering Support, Australia

To maximise value for the community, government and OPR’s shareholders, Mott MacDonald Australia was engaged to develop a Systems Engineering and Assurance (SE &A) framework to determine if this could help to ensure that the infrastructure development associated with the port and rail facilities will meet fully the specified project requirements and provide progressive assurance of the successful delivery of the project to OPR stakeholders.

Waratah Resources Ltd Transport Logistics Project, Republic of Congo

We evaluated the transport of iron ore from north west of the Republic of Congo to the Port of Pointe Noire. The route was required to make use of barging down both the Likouala and Congo rivers and the existing railway between Brazzaville and Pointe Noire. The outline definition phase of the project allowed the client to investigate and optimise the transport of iron ore from the mining project for start up annual product volumes.

“We continuously move with technological updates, ensuring our production of visualisations is at the cutting edge. Our team’s involvement on a project will allow the latest techniques and innovations to be harnessed, setting your work apart from the rest.”

“We are committed to safety through our unique quality, management and environmental policies. We also work with our customers and supply chains to incorporate sustainable solutions into our projects. We are experts in sustainable design, construction techniques and management, and include sustainability at the most critical conceptual, planning and feasibility stages of all our projects, addressing the whole life-cycle costs and impacts from a truly multidisciplinary viewpoint”



  • Demand forecasting
  • Feasibility studies
  • Integration and interchange
  • Project procurement method
  • Regulatory advice
  • TWA and planning applications

Economics and finance

  • Business case development
  • Cost-benefit studies
  • Lifetime cost management
  • Revenue protection
  • Transport modelling
  • Quantity surveying
  • PPP and PFI initiatives

Systems assurance

  • ALARP and CBA assessment
  • RAM assessment
  • Regulatory safety cases
  • Risk and accident models
  • Safety assessment and plans
  • System failure analysis
  • Notified Body for all disciplines

Infrastructure management

  • Asset audit and GIS
  • Asset management
  • Condition valuation
  • Earthworks stabilisation
  • Strategic and structure assessment
  • Usage maximization

Management and maintenance

  • Construction supervision
  • Procurement
  • Programming and control
  • Project and programme management
  • Specification and control
  • Timetabling and diagramming


  • Concept and detailed design
  • Construction methodology
  • Environment and sustainability
  • Hydrological investigation
  • Geotechnical investigation

Operations and franchising

  • Multimodal transportation systems
  • Depot and station design
  • Materials handling
  • Ergonomics
  • Freight and passenger logistics
  • Operational studies

Civil engineering

  • Geotechnics
  • Embankments and cuttings
  • Tunnels
  • Foundations
  • Retaining wall structures
  • Bridges and viaducts
  • Ancillary structures

Systems engineering

  • Lifecycle management
  • Requirements and interface management
  • Integration and testing
  • Verification and validation
  • Stakeholder management
  • Process and logistics mapping
  • Risk management

Specialist skills

Train control and communications

  • CCTV networks and security
  • Customer information and signage
  • ETCS/ERTAS cab and fixed
  • Lineside and GSMR telephony
  • SCADA and operations centres


  • Asset condition assessment
  • Detailed design
  • Enforcement (AWS, ATP, ATO, ATS)
  • IRSE licensing body
  • Scheme planning

AC and DC electrification

  • Corrosion protection
  • Earthing and bonding
  • MC safeguarding
  • Overhead line and third rail
  • Power supply
  • Stray current control

Permanent way

  • Alignment optimisation
  • Line speed improvements
  • Reconditioning and renewal
  • Survey and gauging
  • Switches and crossings
  • Trackform


  • Platform design
  • Ticketing
  • Communications

Rolling stock

  • Certification
  • Design scrutiny
  • Maintenance and modification
  • Procurement management
  • Safety cases

Martime and ports

  • Strategic studies
  • Terminal planning
  • Maritime structures and access
  • Mechanical handling
  • Terminal development
  • Infrastructure design
  • Hydraulic studies
  • Dredging and reclamation
  • Port operations
  • Ship simulation
  • Traffic forecasting

Roads and civil Infrastructure

  • Alignment studies
  • Development planning
  • Pavement studies
  • Toll systems and revenue forecasting
  • Traffic modelling
  • Traffic impact studies
  • Infrastructure design
  • Infrastructure construction
  • Operations and maintenance
  • Maintenance inspections
  • Traffic operations and management


  • Project management
  • Environmental and social impact assessment

Capital and operating cost optimisation studies in these areas:

  • Utilities – water and power
  • Product transport – road, rail and port
  • Urban development
  • Health and education
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