The number of trains that ran on these routes plummeted to 931 in 2019/20 from 1,837 in 2018/19 and 1,777 the previous year. The latest total was just 70% of the planned services.
Tourists who used the routes more than halved from 83,273 in 2017/18 to 37,490 in 2019/20. On-time performance was just 9% in 2019/2020, down from 20% two years earlier.
No infrastructure had been developed in the past three years, Mbalula said. The only upgrading that had been done was at Kroonstad station in the Free State, where the platform was tarred and the toilets and waiting rooms renovated.
Mainline trains stopped operating during the lockdown, and Mbalula said they would start running again from November 27, with all routes operating by December 4.
Covid-19 precautions meant no catering or bedding services would be provided on the trains. Every train would have an isolation coach, he said, and masks would be compulsory.