Johannesburg - Road authorities have committed to developing a rapid rail system along the notorious Moloto Road in an attempt to reduce road accidents, fatalities and to reduce the number of cars on the road.
Following a major fatal accident that claimed 30 lives on Moloto Road in early November, road authorities vowed to put measures in place to ensure such an accident does not happen again.
Transport minister Dipuo Peters on Friday announced rapid rail options were recommended by the political oversight committee on Wednesday.
“Further detailed investigation on the rapid rail option will now be conducted with the aim to complete the feasibility study in March 2014,” Peters said during a media briefing at OR Tambo International Airport.
Originally proposed as the Moloto Rail Corridor Development, the initiative has been on the government’s agenda for years without seeing the light.
The corridor will include rail, road and transfer facilities and is aimed at improving passenger mobility and reducing the number of vehicles on the road.
Once the feasibility study is complete, the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa will be expected to implement the rapid rail project.
In the meantime, Peters said the road will be upgraded.
“To improve traffic safety on the route, interim road improvement measures will be investigated and implemented in the short term,” Peters said.
These improvements include increasing intersection capacity and safety, improving the design of the road to accommodate speeds of up to 120km/h, improving the capacity of bus bays, lighting intersections, rehabilitating the road, introducing weighbridges and vehicle fitness testing centres and closing informal, illegal and unsafe access roads.
Upgrading a 120km stretch of the Moloto road to last another 20 years will cost an estimated R2 billion.
To upgrade 240km of feeder routes in the area will cost an additional R2.4 billion.
In 2008, the cabinet approved R8.6 billion after considering a feasibility study on the project, to be implemented jointly by the Mpumalanga and Limpopo provincial governments, the City of Tshwane and several municipalities along the route.
Subsequent investigations indicated the development was “highly feasible” but because different levels of government in three provinces are involved the project has been complex.
Public transport expert and consultant Paul Browning however said that by introducing the rail service, the government would be going against its own principle of redressing the spatial distortions caused by the past regime. He said rail services would consolidate the reality of people travelling every working day.
Pretoria News reported on Friday that a 72-year-old man was arrested for speeding on the Moloto Road after he collided with a Gauteng Traffic Police vehicle, leaving both drivers in hospital.
Pretoria News Weekend