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Chris Ndaliso
Senior journalist
3 minute read
23 Jun 2022
06:02

Train operations in Durban corridors will be delayed until November

Chris Ndaliso

With the taxi industry set to increase taxi fares daily, commuters will be the hardest hit.

With the taxi industry set to increase taxi fares daily, commuters will be the hardest hit.

No alternative cheaper mode of transport will be available until around November.

The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) told Parliament’s select committee on transport, public services and administration on Wednesday that train operations in the Durban corridors will be delayed until November.

This, according to Prasa acting chief executive David Mphelo, was due to damaged infrastructure during the recent floods.

Mphelo said people building near railway tracks was worsening the problem, as the soil erodes onto the tracks.

Some of the affected corridors are Duffs, KwaMashu, uMlazi, Thembalihle and the Central Line phase 1 corridors to Durban.

Mphelo was briefing the committee on the progress report on the modernisation of passenger rail and rehabilitation of the rail network.

He said: 

“The sustained theft and vandalism of Prasa’s rail assets has disrupted train services across all provinces that Prasa operates.”

“[In addition to] the cancellation of security contracts, the situation was further exacerbated by travel bans imposed during the level 5 hard lockdown which left our infrastructure vulnerable.

“In April 2021, Prasa devised an accelerated corridor approach in recovering services focusing on the top 10 high volume passenger rail corridors for initial resumption of services. The 10 corridors were selected based on the demand for services, the extent of damage and the time required to recover and rehabilitate the infrastructure.

“In KZN, the floods have worsened the situation,” he said.

Mphelo said they have made remarkable strides on the issue of security in Prasa infrastructure.

He said the entity has brought in private security to cover areas where internal security was overstretched.

“These companies are bringing in modern technologies such as drones to ensure the security of our infrastructure.

“Since their presence, the number of criminal incidents on our infrastructure has gone down dramatically. Copper theft is still an issue and this is the work of a syndicate.

“Prasa will spend around R1 billion to fence seven depots in various provinces, including in Durban,” he said.

He said: 

“The three challenges Prasa faces are interrelated, and that requires an integrated response. Security is fundamental in the rebuilding and service recovery efforts of the organisation and the rebuilding programme recognises this fact. However, the security capacity must be matched to respond to both the recovery and operational needs.”

Prasa board chairperson Leonard Ramatlakane said rail was the backbone of the country’s economy and the cheapest mode of transport for many citizens.

He said strides have been made to improve the system and challenges encountered in the process were dealt with accordingly.

The DA’s Tim Brautesath commended Prasa on the efforts to revive the rail system. He pointed out that aluminium conductors were stolen in KwaZulu-Natal and the lines were visibly hanging.

He said the damage was extensive and that Prasa should ensure that this was attended to.