Mbalula wants to double number of Metrorail trains running by Dec 31

Transport minister Fikile Mbalula has set an ambitious target of doubling the number of trains by the end of the year.
Transport minister Fikile Mbalula has set an ambitious target of doubling the number of trains by the end of the year.
Image: Esa Alexander

Transport minister Fikile Mbalula wants to nearly double the number of Metrorail trains on the country's tracks by the end of December this year.

In launching the Passenger Rail Association of SA (Prasa) "war room" on Thursday, Mbalula set a number of ambitious targets.

This, Mbalula said in a statement, included:

  • "Ensure Metrorail train set availability is at 291 train sets, currently at 157. Overcrowding in trains due to insufficient number of train sets on any given day creates a fertile ground for criminal activity and injuries in our commuter rail environment";
  • "Improve on-time performance of Metrorail to 85%, currently at 50.2%. Getting people to work and centres of economic activity on time does not only enable a productive population, but also ensures sustainable livelihoods";
  • "Improve on-time arrivals of Shosholoza Meyl to above 50%, currently at 3%. Shosholoza Meyl has been an important enabler of those who travel from far flung and rural provinces to access work opportunities and indeed business prospects in urban centres for many decades. These are people who cannot afford other modes of transport and depend on long distance trains to make a living";
  • "Improve locomotive availability of Shosholoza Meyl to 60%, currently below 40%";
  • "Achieve 100% correct configuration of train sets, currently at 41%. Trains that have fewer coaches than what a normal train should have contributed greatly to overcrowding; and
  • "Reduce area under speed restrictions to less than 100km of the network, currently at 167km. A large part of the network is under speed restrictions due to ageing infrastructure or other safety issues, resulting in delays. Injecting urgency in addressing these issues will reduce the delays in our trains."

Mbalula said that the "continued decline of the quality of service Prasa provides" needed urgent intervention. To this end, the war room was being put in place to "aggressively improve the quality of our passenger rail service".

He said that the war room would allow officials to make rapid decisions based on information gathered on the ground.

"The war room will be supported by a Technical Task Team primarily made up of experts with in-depth knowledge and experience in a number of areas, which include train operations, signaling, rolling stock and security.

"On a daily basis, the team will start the day with an assessment of the previous day’s performance and identify issues that hamper performance and make decisions on how to resolve these," said Mbalula.

- TimesLIVE

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