Nancefield commuters happy after Prasa restores services in Gauteng, KZN and Western Cape

Nancefield commuters happy after Prasa restores services. Picture: Armand Hough Independent Newspapers

Nancefield commuters happy after Prasa restores services. Picture: Armand Hough Independent Newspapers

Published Apr 6, 2024


Following years of infrastructure collapse, the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) this week confirmed that it has successfully restored five crucial Metrorail services across Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape provinces.

The agency said these services, which include services from Cape Town to Stellenbosch (Western Cape); Merebank to Chatsglen (KwaZulu-Natal); Johannesburg to Florida (Gauteng); Johannesburg to Nancefield (Gauteng) and Germiston to Elsburg (Gauteng), were returned at the end of March.

On a visit to the Nancefield train station, a 4pm train to Joburg is set to depart as a few commuters rush to catch it.

One of the commuters quips: “I can’t believe the train almost left me,” as he dashes towards the awaiting train.

Speaking to the Saturday Star, a vegetable and fruit vendor outside the station who identified herself as Irene Sebabalo said business has improved since the return of the train service.

“The past two years without the train service has been bad for our business. Sometimes I would return home without having sold anything, but things are starting to look up now. Crime was very bad here but now with the security, we feel much safer,” she said.

Mapula Radebe, who was accompanied by her partner, Stanley, said they are happy that the trains have returned and will be using the service as soon as she returns to work.

“I am currently on leave and will definitely use the service when I get back from leave. I see the station is now in a better condition than it was just a year ago. Prasa must ensure and maintain security presence at all times. They must also prevent people from crossing anywhere they want. People must use the designated overheard bridges instead,” Radebe said.

In August last year, Prasa indicated that that the full recovery of commuter rail services nationally was its top priority.

This commitment came three years after South Africa’s 30 000km rail infrastructure, which was one of the most advanced in the world, was stripped down by rail criminals after a decision by the Department of Transport saw the cancellation of private security contracts.

“We have successfully brought 31 of our 40 lines back into partial operation and are focused on achieving full operational status for these corridors, with work to extend the above-mentioned lines continuing. This milestone demonstrates our commitment to revitalising passenger rail services, providing an efficient and cost-effective public transport option for South Africans,” Prasa said on Wednesday.

Prasa indicated that significant progress is being made to rehabilitate and improve rail infrastructure.

“Significant progress is being made on the Central Line, with ongoing efforts to rehabilitate rail infrastructure from Philippi to Nolungile and onwards to Chris Hani. This work has been facilitated by the temporary relocation of 891 households from the Philippi station area, enabling us to proceed with necessary recovery work,” Prasa said.

This work builds on the recovery of the Cape Town to Nyanga services, which marked an important milestone on what is one of the most important passenger rail routes in the country.

“Recognising the growing demand for our services, we are actively working to repair vandalised signalling equipment. These repairs are essential not only for the safe operation of our trains but also to increase the frequency of our services to meet our commuters’ needs.

“The recovery of these lines has been made possible by dedicated staff across various regions, who have spared no effort and commitment in reaching these achievements, despite facing considerable challenges. We remain steadfast in our mission to restore passenger rail as the backbone of public transport in South Africa,” the agency said.

Saturday Star