Prasa rolls out rail signalling upgrade

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Independent Newspapers.

Picture: David Ritchie.

Johannesburg - The rail signal systems on Johannesburg and Pretoria rail passenger networks will be upgraded at a cost of R7 billion, the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) said on Wednesday.

“Prasa will spend almost R7 billion over the next three years to upgrade the signalling system while preparing for the arrival of the modern commuter trains, which are expected to hit the tracks in 2015,” Prasa group chief executive Lucky Montana said in a statement.

“Upgrading of the existing rail infrastructure will increase capacity and ensure more flexibility, greater safety, and fewer train delays.

“This modern signalling infrastructure will underpin the safe movements of trains in Gauteng. The need for more effective train control is important as the number, speed, mass, and length of the trains in Gauteng increase,” he said.

The South African branch of global engineering company Siemens had been commissioned to implement the new rail signalling systems and track upgrades.

The project involved replacing outdated technology - some of it dating back to the 1930s - with modern electronic systems.

It would be implemented with minimum impact on current rail operations.

The rail improvement programme in Gauteng began in 2011 when Siemens was first commissioned to upgrade a quarter of Gauteng’s signalling system and build a state-of-the-art centrally-controlled operations centre.

“Completion of the rail signalling project will see the Gauteng railway network aligned with modern urban rail networks across the world,” Siemens SA senior project manager Lucio Lefebvre said.

Key features of the upgrade included introducing electronic interlocking systems, upgrading and/or building new relay rooms, a new train detection system, overhead and track changes, and implementing a custom-designed train control operating system across the entire Gauteng network. - Sapa

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