Completed Pretoria-Pienaarspoort corridor will see trains back on track

Railway lines at the Hatfield station. Picture: Jacques Naude/African News Agency (ANA)

Railway lines at the Hatfield station. Picture: Jacques Naude/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Sep 19, 2022


Pretoria - The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa has completed construction work on the Pretoria-Pienaarspoort corridor and is now testing and commissioning the lines before opening them for commercial trips.

Spokesperson Andiswa Makanda told the Pretoria News that project managers and their teams had worked throughout the week to ensure that the entire infrastructure was ready to function smoothly after a major rehabilitation project since serious acts of theft and vandalism had collapsed services a few years ago.

Makanda said they would be introducing the new electrical motor units – the Blue Trains – when they reopen in October, for commuters who prefer travelling on trains as they are more affordable.

“The testing and commissioning is a very important phase of the project before the line can be safely opened for commercial operation. This phase of the project is to ensure that all the restored rail infrastructure, including electrical rail infrastructure, is working and will be ready for the reopening of the corridor,” she said.

Railway lines at the Hatfield station. Picture: Jacques Naude/African News Agency (ANA)

The corridor covers Koedoespoort, Silverton, Eersterust, Eerste Fabrieke, Mamelodi and Pienaarspoort stations, to name just a few. The current work on the corridor covers 53km and 16 train stations, and 200 job opportunities were created to rehabilitate it.

The main objective of the rehabilitation project, Makanda said, was to restore minimum train service in the affected corridors, which includes the restoration of power supply. This essentially meant rehabilitating vandalised stations for revenue collection and rehabilitating vandalised perway (bridges and platforms) infrastructure.

The Koedoespoort substation was among those vandalised. “The substation now boasts new technology, increased power of its traction transformer, meaning more trains can be powered on the line,” Makanda said.

The technical team had also reduced the copper content at the substations, and substituted copper where possible with aluminium to reduce theft and vandalism, she said.

Other improvements included the introduction of 6MVA traction transformers in place of the 4.5MVA, which were in place before vandalism took place and the building of bund (reinforced retaining) walls around transformer plinths for environmental protection in case of oil leaks.

“This comes with modernised high-speed circuit breakers to accommodate higher current drawn, and increasing overhead traction equipment feeder wire capacity,” said Makanda.

Traditional train commuter Israel Tau said: “It’s about time. We are tired of waiting. We cannot afford taxis. They are expensive and you have to take two to get to work. Trains can get you from Mamelodi to the firms in Pretoria West cheaply.”

Commuter Nomsa Magaza said: “Trains have a positive impact on the township economy. There are a lot of informal traders who lost their earning power when this service was halted because of criminals who steal wires.”

Pretoria News