The Eastern Cape Department of Roads and Transport was this week granted a Testing and Commissioning Permit by the Rail Safety Regulator for Kei Rail.
MEC Thobile Mhlahlo said the move was an important step towards achieving a goal of an operational Kei Rail.
Track measuring machinery and track trolleys have been running on the railway line between Amabele and Mthatha since March.
"The testing and commissioning permit allows for a complete train set of 10 coaches to run on the line to facilitate knowledge and train-handling for drivers," added Mhlahlo.
He said the aim of the testing phase was to ensure that operational matters - such as crossing points for trains, platform heights, running times and integration with existing Shosholoza Meyl and bus services - were dealt with in detail.
"Certain requirements would need to be met to the satisfaction of the Rail Safety Regulator before a permanent licence can be issued.
"These include a comprehensive rule book for the line and identification of risks which will hinder the proper operations on the line," Mhlahlo said.
He said the permit phase would also be testing the management of the train despatching services from Amabele Station, from where the department would be managing these services as a network operator on the line.
The much-anticipated launch of Kei Rail's passenger services is expected next month.
The department is presently conducting a rail safety awareness campaign for communities living along the line to ensure that they are aware of the dangers associated with an operational railway line.
As part of the safety awareness campaign, a number of Izimbizo roadshows and school visits have been held in communities along the line.