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Fikile Mbalula and Prasa board believe rail network upgrade is on track

Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula and the Prasa board inspected the Southern Line. Picture: Fikile Mbalula/Twitter

Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula and the Prasa board inspected the Southern Line. Picture: Fikile Mbalula/Twitter

Published Mar 4, 2022

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Cape Town - Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula and the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) board and management conducted an oversight visit at the Southern Line on Thursday, to assess work done to recover it.

They boarded the blue train – “The People’s Train” – at the Cape Town station to Fish Hoek station, where they interacted with passengers. Some appealed to Mbalula to deploy security officers on the trains.

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This follows the decision of the railway safety regulator to grant Metrorail a certificate to run the new Electric Motor Units on the Southern Line at peak and off-peak times.

Mbalula said they have made an undertaking to restore commuter rail services and return the 10 priority rail corridors to service this calendar year.

"We are pleased that the progress we have made, places us firmly on track towards the realisation of this commitment," Mbalula said.

He said the suspension of services over time have had a devastating impact on those who relied trains to get to work or school.

"This oversight inspection on the Southern Line is to evaluate the progress we are making in restoring these services and rehabilitating and upgrading rail infrastructure," he said.

Mbalula said the inspection came at the backdrop of a two-month closure of the line between Retreat and Fish Hoek stations last year because of vandalism.

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"This criminal conduct resulted in severe damage to four mast poles holding up electrical lines. The responsiveness of the Prasa security personnel resulted in these criminals being apprehended," he said.

Mbalula said Prasa would introduce two new trains at peak times to the other two new trains which had been operating during the off-peak, now also operating at peak.

United Commuters Voice spokesperson João Jardim said the Southern Line seemed to be the only line that Prasa boasts about; "what about the Northern and Central Lines," he asked.

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Mbalula said there would be four new trains which would be in full operation. Two trains would operate on the Southern Line, while the other two trains would be on the Cape Flats Line.

"The Western Cape currently has a total of 12 new trains, with nine of these ready for deployment. The remaining three trains are currently being serviced and getting ready for deployment," he said.

He said they have deployed six security personnel in each train, considering that the trains consist of six cars.

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Transport and Public Works standing committee chairperson in the legislature, Derrick America, said it was critical that Prasa invested in efficient and reliable security throughout their network to ensure that trains run on time and serve the thousands of commuters who relied on it.

He said the provincial Department of Transport and Public Works would continue to monitor the implementation programmes and time frame provided by Prasa, in recovering assets and partner with them to bring that crucial service fully online.

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