Only 17% of Prasa’s railway network in Gauteng is functional: audit report

17 December 2021 - 09:57
By Iavan Pijoos
Prasa's Shosholoza Meyl passenger trains are due to start running on four routes, with the first starting from December 15. File photo.
Image: Supplied Prasa's Shosholoza Meyl passenger trains are due to start running on four routes, with the first starting from December 15. File photo.

Only 17% of the Passenger Rail Agency of SA’s (Prasa) network in Gauteng is functional, transport minister Fikile Mbalula revealed during a written response.

Mbalula was responding to a question posed by the EFF’s Nontando Nolutshungu about to whether his department had conducted a rail infrastructure audit.

Mbalula confirmed an audit was undertaken by Prasa and provided a breakdown by region.

In Gauteng, only 17% of the network is functional — two lines under electric traction (Vereeniging and Saulsville) and two lines under diesel traction (Naledi and Leralla).

The list of functioning lines included Vereeniging to Union (249 patronage per day), Saulsville to Pretoria (1,973 patronage per day), Naledi to Johannesburg (4,096 patronage per day) and Leralla to Germiston (6,142 patronage per day).

The audit found at least 47% of the railway network was functional in KwaZulu-Natal.

This included Umlazi to Durban (9,830 patronage per day), Cato Ridge to Durban (5,830 patronage per day) and Kelso to Durban partially functional from Umkomaas to Durban (1,660 patronage per day).

In the Western Cape 40% of the network is functional. The list included Kraaifontein to Cape Town via Monte Vista (4,583 patronage per day), Cape Town to Langa via Mutual (325 patronage per day), Cape Town to Malmesbury (429 patronage per day),  Cape Town to Retreat via Athlone (1,112 patronage per day and Cape Town to Simon’s Town (3,257 patronage per day).

The list of functioning lines belonging to Transnet Freight Rail (TFR) and utilised by Prasa included Gqeberha to Uitenhage (466 patronage per day) and East London to Berlin (5,826 patronage per day).

Getting back on track

A week ago, TimesLIVE reported Prasa’s long-distance passenger trains were due to begin operating from December 15 after almost a year’s absence.

Long-distance passenger train services were suspended in January because of Covid-19 and widespread vandalism along many routes where overhead electric power cables were stolen and stations destroyed.

The first six months will see Prasa focus on employee and customer safety, bringing back customers, generating revenue and sustainability, the rail agency said.

Along with the Johannesburg to East London route, services will also operate on the lines to Gqeberha, Bloemfontein via Kimberley and to Musina via Polokwane.

The first train to Gqeberha is due to depart on December 17, together with a train from Johannesburg to Bloemfontein via Kimberley

For passengers heading from Johannesburg to Limpopo and Zimbabwe, the first train is due to depart for Musina on December 23.