Train commuters to wait at least another year for full services to return

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The reason for the delay is a dramatic surge in vandalism and theft during the COVID-19 lockdown.

A general view of the Cape Town train station. Picture: @CapeTownTrains/Facebook.com.

CAPE TOWN – Full services on key commuter lines in Gauteng and Cape town will take another year to restore, the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) on Wednesday told Parliament.

The reason for the delay is a dramatic surge in vandalism and theft during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Prasa officials on Wednesday briefed the National Council of Province’s select committee on transport about damage to stations and railway lines, as well as attacks on staff by armed criminals.

The plan was to get a limited service running on the Mabopane line in Gauteng and Cape Town’s central line by this month, with the aim to restore full service by next year.

But those timelines have had to be pushed back, according to Prasa Chief Executive Technical, Hishaam Emeran.

“We are looking to the latter part of 2021 – October or November – for both corridors, to implement a limited electric rail service and then phase 2, which is the full rail service, we are looking at early 2022.”

Prasa Ceo Nosipho Damasane said in the meantime, diesel locomotives would haul coaches on the Mabopane line from next month (November).

In Cape Town, 80 buses would help ferry commuters on the central line from January.

Problems there were compounded by illegal dwellings on the line and Damasane said alternative land is being sought for people to move to.

Of Prasa’s 34 rail corridors, only 12 are up and running.

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