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By News24 Wire

Wire Service

Massive R1.4bn boost to get Cape Town central train line back on track

Fikile Mbalula said 80 buses would be used while Prasa attended to the massive repair resulting from infrastructure vandalism.

The department of transport budgeted a massive amount of money to get the problematic Cape Town Central train line back on track.

Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula on Thursday said there would be a phased re-introduction of the train service for the central line which served commuters in Mitchells Plain and Khayelitsha, two of Cape Town’s biggest areas.

The repair plan was expected to cost R1.4 billion and would be conducted in phases.

Commuters in the area had been without train services since November 2019.

Starting in July, Mbalula announced that buses would be used to transport commuters along the central line route as an interim solution for public transport.

“Government understands the frustrations experienced by the commuters who rely on the central line. It is well understood that commuters now need to pay more for transport and take two or more modes to get to their destinations,” Mbalula tweeted.

He said 80 buses would be used while Prasa attended to the massive repair resulting from infrastructure vandalism.

“Prasa spent approximately R170 million on substations and overhead lines on the central line alone to try and repair, but equipment and infrastructure are vandalised beyond repair again,” said Mbalula.

As part of the plan to prevent vandalism, the department announced the building of a four-metre high concrete barrier along the line as well the installation of security cameras.

Substations would be repaired or rebuilt, overhead electrical lines replaced and signalling modernised.

By September 2020, 62 train trips per day would be available on the line, with a frequency of 30 minutes, Mbalula promised.

Full service was expected to be restored by April 2021 and the minister promised 232 train trips per day, with a peak frequency of 10 to 15 minutes.

In the meantime, Mbalula warned that electrical infrastructure would be live during the repair process.

“Communities must work with Prasa to ensure the improvements are implemented successfully. During the period of closure, electricity in the area will be live. Communities must take care and ensure that children and animals are kept clear of the tracks.”

He said that some people had built shacks on Prasa land, which impeded the train service.

There would be ongoing community engagement to remove informal structures in dangerous locations, according to Mbalula.

Metrorail in the Western Cape had 34 train sets to fulfil a timetable for which 88 was needed, and the company was set to begin the rollout of new generation 10M4 trains.

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