The new and improved Prasa train model. Picture: Masi Losi/African News Agency (ANA)
The new and improved Prasa train model. Picture: Masi Losi/African News Agency (ANA)

'People's train' makes its first appearance on Prasa tracks in Cape Town

By Sisonke Mlamla Time of article published Oct 21, 2020

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Cape Town - The so-called “people’s train”, produced in South Africa, that would hopefully bring an end to commuter woes has made its first appearance in Cape Town this week.

Metrorail spokesperson Zino Mihi said they have received two train sets (up to 10 coaches) on Monday. The sets would be rolled out on the Southern and Cape Flats lines.

Mihi said Metrorail would first be implementing the security plan and would work with the Railway Safety Regulator (RSR) to ensure that the commercial service was safe before the operation.

The trains arrived 18 months after President Cyril Ramaphosa unveiled the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) train sets in Cape Town, but none of those have been seen running.

United National Transport Union (Untu) spokesperson Sonja Carstens said when Ramaphosa launched the train sets in April last year, “I said they won’t be running soon”.

“It was just a publicity stunt before the election and I was right they haven’t been running since. The same with this, it is once again creating unrealistic expectations within the Cape Town community that there will be trains running soon, while we all know that the overhead cables and the platforms have not been adjusted for these trains,” Carstens said.

“It’s ‘pie in the sky’ to think that we’re going to see those trains running with commuters soon.

"It’s once again six months before the local government elections and they want to win the Western Cape so obviously they are playing a political game.

“They must start a holistic approach; firstly, they must find alternative housing for people who have built on railway lines and provide them with water and sanitation.”

RSR spokesperson Madelein Williams said Prasa has made submissions in line with its requirements that mainly entailed submissions to the RSR at different life-cycle stages of the electric multiple units (EMU) project.

Williams said the RSR has approved the transfer of the EMUs from the Dunnottar factory in Nigel to Wolmerton in Pretoria, and finally to Cape Town.

She said Prasa was currently attending to the outstanding RSR requirements to ensure it was in a state of readiness for the deployment of the EMUs in Cape Town.

“Among a host of issues they are working on, issues related to the safe deployment of the new trains are part and parcel of the outstanding action items and requirements which Prasa is dealing with currently,” she said.

Mihi said each region has also appointed 700 security officers and have already started to deploy at operating stations and other rail facilities.

United Commuters Voice spokesperson João Jardim said they were pleased to see the first train has finally arrived, but added that it will not be running on the Central Line as previously announced due to theft and vandalism.

Cape Argus

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