Minister of Transport, Dr Blade Nzimande says his department will intensify its efforts to stabilise the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa.
Speaking during his budget vote address Nzimande, noted that governance was a major challenge for most of the department’s entities and he plans to pay particular attention to this matter.
“Honourable Members, we have intensified our effort of stabilising the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa), by dealing with their capacity challenges, appointing a new board that will lead the turnaround strategy, and to attend to the senior management vacancies in the organisation,” he explained.
Prioritising the Western Cape
Nzimande said his department would prioritize the challenges Prasa is facing in the Western Cape Town, in Cape Town specifically.
“We have begun tackling the safety and reliability of Metrorail in this corridor. Our priority is to provide safe rail travel, especially for the working class. Prasa is currently implementing a signalling programme to replace the old signalling system, and the project is near completion,” he explained.
“Furthermore, we are at an advanced stage with the construction of the Central Operation Centre for the control of rail operation in the entire Western Cape. Construction is expected to be completed by the end of June 2018,” Nzimande added.
Through the Centre the department will be able to better manage its service, and improve the management and safety of its operations.
Addressing the inadequacy of rolling stock
To address the inadequacy of the rolling stock, Nzimande said the department will continue to refurbish its current rolling stock to meet the immediate demand of this corridor. The Cape Town corridor requires about 110 train sets and according to the minister the department will operate 88 fully configured train sets in the next 24 months.
“However, we are also working on our plans to roll-out the new rolling stock, including putting in place enabling infrastructure such as the depot programme, perway and electrical works, to support the deployment of the new rolling stock fleet, although I am concerned at the slow pace in these projects.
“I have therefore directed the new board to pay urgent attention in dealing with these challenges and I expect a plan within the next two months,” he added.