R1.4bn to be spent on restoring Cape Town central train line - Mbalula
Cape Town - Transport minister Fikile Mbalula announced on Thursday that Cape Town's central commuter rail line would be fully suspended and R1.4 billion spent on restoring it, with the aim of being wholly operational again by April 2021.
Mbalula said that from July, 80 buses would be made available to carry commuters who would normally use Metrorail's central line, which runs from Cape Town central station to Chris Hani station in Khayelitsha.
The line carries 40% of the city's commuter traffic, but the equipment and infrastructure serving it had been "vandalised beyond repair", said Mbalula.
He was addressing media with PRASA administrator Bongisizwe Mpondo after travelling on a dilapidated carriage on the central line.
Mbalula said PRASA had spent roughly R170 million on repairing substations and overhead lines but far more work was needed to make the vital commuter artery, which passes through 20 stations, functional again.
"As a result of these challenges, we have closed the line for commuter train traffic and for remedial work to commence," he said.
The next three months would see PRASA work to restore "order and security", and the following six months would see implementation of projects that had been sitting in the pipeline.
This would include building four-metre high walls to protect infrastructure and serve as a boundary for railway land.
The central line has seen repeated vandalism and arson, and sections were closed off late last year, with initial plans to reopen it in six months.
Mbalula said he understood passengers' frustration, and stressed: "As we fix our trains, we will engage our people."
He said that in September, limited service would be restored between central Cape Town and Philippi, with trains arriving every half an hour.
In April, when service is restored along the length of the line, there would be a train every 15 minutes at peak times and every half an hour in off-peak hours.
The central line normally carries some 220,000 passengers but this dropped to 95,000 after sections were shuttered.
African News Agency/ANA