Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan has approved agreements that bind the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) to certain financial commitments for the rail parastatal’s R123.5 billion project to upgrade and expand South Africa’s railway infrastructure and rolling stock. Prasa’s financial commitments could not exceed R53bn in 2014 prices for the duration of the agreements subject to price adjustments in response to increases in the consumer price index and foreign exchange as contemplated in the agreement, Gordhan said in a notice published in the Government Gazette on Thursday last week. The finance minister said that he had authorised Prasa’s “accounting authority to issue indemnities and enter into other transactions in terms of the manufacture and supply agreement and technical support and spares supply agreements, which he had reviewed”. In 2012, the Gibela Rail Transportation consortium, comprising France’s Alstom and South African company Actom, secured a R51bn contract to supply 3 600 coaches during the first 10 years of the 20-year project to upgrade the Metrorail and Shosholoza Meyl fleets. – Asha Speckman