The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) has spent R2.1 billion in recovering the rail infrastructure in Gauteng to date.
“PRASA is making significant progress in rebuilding the passenger rail infrastructure and refurbishing vandalised stations. Today, PRASA has recovered 18 corridors, with seven corridors now operational in Gauteng with the new Electrical Motor Units, Istimela Sabantu,” Transport Minister Sindisiwe Chikunga said on Monday.
She was addressing the launch of the Leralla-Germiston line, which cost under R600 million in rebuilding and rehabilitating the line that first ran commercially on 6 July and now carries 10 000 people daily.
The rehabilitation included the six stations the train stops at, the overhead electrical cables that power the trains and the substations that feed power to the network. The train stops at Leralla, Limindlela, Tembisa, Kempton Park, Rhodesfield and Germiston stations.
“R28 million was invested in refurbishing the stations; R292 million spent on the overhead cables, and R276 million spent on the substations. R44 million was spent to rehabilitate and restore the Elandsfontein substation,” Chikunga said.
The Minister said work is in progress to extend the service from Germiston all the way to Johannesburg Park Station, with a total budget of R130 million allocated to this project.
“Our interventions to restore urban passenger rail services aim to ensure that the return of passenger rail to the city is sustainable. The plans are part of our wider strategy to improve passenger rail services across South Africa and make rail a safe, reliable, and affordable mode of transport.
“Through PRASA’s Capital projects, we will ensure that PRASA continues to invest in local communities and boost local economies by creating job opportunities. We are pleased to announce that 191 jobs were created in this project, with 15 young women under the age of 35 employed, 3 women with disabilities and 21 women over the age of 35. Four Small, Medium and Micro enterprises (SMMEs) from local communities benefited from this project,” she said.
The Minister said it is also prudent that the informal economy benefits from the railway stations and the access they provide to people.
“The Germiston station is one of our biggest intermodal facilities in Gauteng, with taxis and buses feeding into the station, thus supporting a vibrant informal economy where informal traders can ply their trade and sell their wares to passengers and people from surrounding areas.
“The micro-economic activities at the Germiston station clearly demonstrate the role of intermodal facilities in providing transport solutions, convenience, accessibility, and economic opportunities.
“The increase of patronage numbers is vital to the sustainable livelihoods of informal traders and commuters at large who rely on this affordable mode of transport. Plans are in place to regain patronage numbers, including the rebuilding of critical stations for commuters to access the trains,” Chikunga said.
PRASA’s national resignaling programme will ensure that the organization increases the frequency of trains while ensuring the safe passage of our new modern trains and safety for our passengers.
“We are also pleased to announce that since the implementation of PRASA’s integrated security plan, we have seen a reduction of security related incidences in the PRASA environment by 75%.
“Recently, PRASA’s Protection Officers were declared Peace Officers under the Criminal Procedures Act, giving them more law enforcement powers, similar to the police, including powers to arrest. We would like to congratulate all the 286 PRASA Peace Officers who are now trained in Criminal Law and Law in General, amongst many other modules,” the Minister said.
Additionally to the Peace Officer Status, PRASA’s Protection Officers are multiskilled in Armed Response, platform marshalling, CCTV monitoring, and many more.
Their deployment areas include on board the trains, staging yards, rail infrastructure, supported by the SAPS Railway Police and Ekurhuleni Metro Police Department.
Source: South African Government News Agency