The new and improved Prasa train model. Picture: Masi Losi/African News Agency (ANA)
In South Africa, we have barely scratched the surface of the possibility of alternative modes of rail investment.

The president recently in his Sona speech spoke about seeing investment in speeding trains between major cities in the country. Rail infrastructure investment meets a number of important development goals. In mitigating climate change set out by the World Bank, it creates new industries, improving the economy with much-needed jobs and improves the overall liveability of a city.

Our dependence on cars is partly due to the general downward trend and lack of investment in urban rail networks. It is now evident that the Metrorail service in its current state is past its peak in terms of contributing to its passenger transport role.

Meanwhile, other international cities have been reinventing their railway industry for 50-odd years to realise the benefits of global railway renaissance.

Our own National Rail Policy emphasises the need to look extensively at rail, in meeting the substantial international commitments to reduce transport sector greenhouse gas emissions. In order to achieve this, we will need to increase the urban rail footprint by investing in alternative rail variants, if we want rail to increase by two, three or four times of its current passenger-carrying capacity.

The time has come to seriously investigate the need for an elevated urban light rail transit system in Cape Town, as elevated rail systems have regained popularity as a way to retrofit public transport infrastructure into existing urban environments.

* Hylton Mitchell, CapeTownSkyTrain Initiative and Urbanist.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.

Cape Argus