Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula says train services have been fully restored in the Western Cape after the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) paid its outstanding bill to Eskom.
Eskom had earlier terminated the electricity supply due to non-payment, resulting in thousands of commuters being stranded during the afternoon peak on Thursday.
The Khayelitsha, Eerste River, Strand and Tafelbaai sub-stations were affected.
Mbalula said Eskom had cited an overdue payment of R4m.
“This despite the fact that other regions have not been subjected to similar treatment,” he added at a media briefing at Cape Town train station on Thursday evening.
He apologised to all affected commuters.
The latest action reflected the deepening crisis Prasa was facing, Mbalula added.
“Should a question be asked, was this a surprise, was this a shocker and all that? It is not. It is because we have been raising this issue since submitting our detailed plan of the financial model in turning Prasa around.”
Mbalula said Prasa had made submissions to National Treasury over the last few months to transfer part of the capital budget to address operational expenses.
More than R18bn remain tied in the capital budget.
“We will continue to robustly engage within the government to find a sustainable solution to the challenges facing commuter rail,” said Mbalula.
“The trade-offs that we make as a country in light of the dire economic climate must be responsible and not adversely affect the livelihoods of the poor who rely on public transport.”
Eskom earlier confirmed it had started the reconnection process, which would take effect within hours, after receiving proof of payment from Prasa.
However, it was possible that some sites might only regain power by tomorrow.
The Malmesbury and Worcester trains would operate this evening from Cape Town station.
Although some commuters had already made alternative arrangements, sweeper trains would operate from Cape Town station to the Cape Flats, Simon’s Town and north to assist any commuters at stations.
“We sincerely regret that we were unable to fully meet our obligation to take all our commuters home this afternoon,” said acting Prasa regional manager Raymond Maseko.
He added the train service was expected to operate as planned on Friday morning.