Tag Archive | Metrorail

Road and Rail South Africa

Minister comments on taxi and rail plans

Taxi recap slows, rail plans behind….

Transport minister, Dipuo Peters, told parliamentarians during the annual budget vote debate during a transport portfolio committee meeting that she had to re-look at the failing taxi recapitalisation programme; encourage Gauteng road users to pay e-tolls by announcing incentives; tackle urgently the upgrading of roads; and consider methods to restore freight rail transport as a the primary carrier for the Durban/Gauteng corridor.

The minister said that she recognised that the taxi industry played a critical role in the South African economy by providing 300,000 jobs and contributing an estimated,R40bn to the economy, she said.

Taxi industry must change

The need to modernise the taxi industry still remained as an urgent issue, she continued, and also there was a need to further deploy taxi drivers to other industries, including the bus rapid transit system, possibly aviation and to ports and shipping.

She attributed the slow pace of the recapitalisation programme to the fact that heavily indebted taxi operators chose to remain with old taxis rather enter the process of recapitalisation.   Also, the scrapping allowance had been overtaken by rising prices of new taxis. The entire system needed a priority overhaul, she said, since the safety of the South African passengers was at risk.

Later it became evident during debate that the taxi recapitalisation programme had for all intents and purposes stalled, since only 2,752 vehicles had been scrapped in some eighteen months.

E-toll dispensations

On the subject of e-tolls, Minister Peters said that in order to “make things easier” for the public, DoT was providing an extension of the payment period from seven days to fifty one days; a 48% e-tag-holder discount; 60% discount on the alternative tariff if a non registered user paid within the same 51 days; time-of-day discounts applicable in certain cases; frequent user discounts and a cap on class A2/light vehicles

The minister was asked if SANRAL intended to continue its “prosecution and possibly criminalisation of some one-million people who have not paid their e-toll bills”. She replied that she hoped the new arrangements would assist in reducing the financial burden for motorists. She urged Gauteng users of tolled roads to “accept their responsibilities in the interests of better roads for South Africa if SANRAL were to perform their duties and meet their targets.”

She asked MPs to take the lead and say publicly that they were.

How it works

The total DoT budget was R48.7bn. for 2014/15, rising to R53.9bn. in 2015/16. This amount included allocations to provinces, municipalities, state owned companies and agencies. Road transport received 43.7%, rail transport had 34.9% and public transport 21%, whilst civil aviation and maritime each received 0.4%. DoT was responsible for transfer of payments and conditional grants to provinces and municipalities.

On the issue of road conditions nationally, DOT heads stated that only 10% of roads were in “poor” condition and the department indicated that it would provide R21.9bn in critical support to SANRAL who were the roads delivery agent for DoT.

Metrorail must improve

On rail issues and rail transport, Mawethu Vilana, acting DG for DoT, said passenger rail accounted for a large slice of the commuter transport used by the national work force, R15bn being allocated to the railways accordingly.    He said DoT was trying to reduce the cost and to improve the services of Metrorail, as well as accelerate implementation of integrating rail services with other transport services.   A White Paper would be issued on rail integration issues.

This was enlarged upon by Mathabatha Mokonyama, DG of public transport, who said the focus was on accelerating integrated transport systems “so as to improve its overall productivity” and DoT would to allocate R81m to the integration process, expected to increase to R84m in 2015/16 and again to R89m in 2016/17.

Mokonyama reconfirmed that whilst rail transport played a major role, DoT had to focus on reducing the cost of public transport generally and it would also monitor the progress of the Passenger Rail Agency in its objective to restore to the country national rail passenger systems.

Focus must be on freight

He indicated that rail freight transport had to play a larger role in order to compete with road, particularly the Durban/Gauteng corridor and to service industry in Mpumalanga.

Mokonyama again pointed to the new draft updated White Paper on Transport which was on its way as a framework for public discussion. DoT would also update the Moving South Africa plan and the seven-year old rural transport strategy. This new planning called for further updated legislation.

Minister Peters, in conclusion, conceded under questioning that DoT urgently needed to update scholar transport policies and re-introduce urgency to programmes to reduce road fatalities.

Where is the merchant navy

In an odd ending to the debate, when discussing the budget vote on maritime issues, it was said by the DoT maritime services DG that there was a need to establish a maritime shipping sector. The chair promptly asked, “What has happened to the country’s ships?”

The deputy minister of transport, Sindisiwe Chikunga, replied “All our ships were sold on the eve of democracy to make sure that the current government did not participate in the international shipping industry”.

This position was to be reversed, she concluded.

Other articles in this category or as background
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//finance-economic/prasa-says-upgrade-of-rail-transport-will-involve-local-industry/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//finance-economic/bumpy-road-for-e-tolling-bill-continues/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//uncategorized/transnet-says-freight-rail-operations-coming-right/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//energy/transport-subsidies-to-business-are-wrong-says-parliament/

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PRASA says upgrade of rail transport will involve local industry

The CEO of Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa), Lucky Montana, told the public services select committee that a preferred bidder for new passenger coaches would be selected before the end of 2012 and a contract to commence building the first of 3000 new coaches over the next ten years concluded by the middle of 2013.

He told parliamentarians that the current stock of some 4,600 Metrorail coaches “would soon be unsafe to use” ranging in age from 20 to 50 years old. The same applied to its 1,200 long-distance Shosholoza Meyl train units and the replacements were to be supplied on the basis that that 65% of content was locally manufactured.

This would mean the bidder would have to have in place the manufacturing ability to meet such a commitment, Montana said, adding that “the first train would roll out of the new manufacturing plant in 2014/15.”

Montana said that whilst finished coaches could probably be imported sooner, the plan was rather to revive the local manufacturing industry thus developing skills and new jobs. A feasibility study had been undertaken by Prasa with National Treasury and the departments of public enterprises and transport, and together they had established the need for some 7,200 coaches.

He told the select committee that  in general terms South Africa’s rail system as it stood “had come to the end of its design life”. Technology used was obsolete, he said, and the whole rail structure was inefficient because of high costs of maintenance and “there are many areas that we can’t close down because we have to provide some sort of service.”

Of the international standards criteria for passenger coaches, of the twenty two issues that should be met for passenger safety and comfort, the current fleet only met one item on the list – that of heating for passengers, he said.

Signalling systems also had to be totally renewed throughout the country, he said, current ineffective systems currently inhibiting any ability to increase turn around or run more trains.

R7bn in new signalling systems was to be spent, Montana said, and he showed parliamentarians a capital expenditure budget indicating a spend of R26bn on rolling stock and infrastructure development which included signalling over the period 2012/13 to 2014/15.

In terms of future planning, he described a Johannesburg/ Durban high speed link; a further high speed rail system for the Moloto rail corridor;  a rail link for Baragwanath to Johannesburg and commuter rail links for Cape Town and King Shaka airports.

In a subsequent development outside of committees, Ben Martins, the newly appointed minister of transport, in a replying to a parliamentary question on the subject of commuter needs commented that it was “a constitutional aspiration and a stated policy that public (rail) transport should eventually devolve to the level of government closest to its delivery.”

Minister Martins noted that PRASA, as it was currently structured, “provided for limited accountability to customers” and it was imperative to “restructure service delivery in such a way as to introduce accountability and obtain better governance over the deployment of public funds.”

Talks were underway with regional governments, provincial structures and municipalities on the running of metro rail services, minister Martins stating that at this stage it was government’s intention is to devolve “only rail operational subsidies” to metropolitan municipalities, who would act as “conduits for payment” and not act as operators.

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Passenger trains only start rolling by 2015

In the light of Transnet’s enormous future expenditure, PRASA, the newly-established Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa – combining South African Rail Commuter Corporation, Metrorail, Shosholoza Meyl and road transport operator Translux under a new name – recently told the parliamentary transport committee that only two-thirds of the rail passenger fleet in the form of coaches were currently in operation owing to reliability issues.

Group CEO Lucky Montana advised a 20-year procurement process that would be split into two portions, the first being a ten-year contract of coach deliveries running from 2015 and a second contract commencing 2025.

The R136-billion contract renewal programme would be for the design, building and shared maintenance of the rolling stock and final arrangements would be in terms of strict black economic empowerment criteria.

He admitted that the delivery timelines were “very tight” and he told parliamentarians that on top of this approximately 4,500 units had to be “retired” in three to five years.   Montana said that a good number of the old coaches had to be scrapped when the new fleet started arriving. Some of the older coaches are aged between 47 and 52 and with the rail passenger crisis building he told parliamentarians, “We have to move with speed”.

He said that some local sub-Sahara African rail operators had indicated that they would be interested in acquiring a number of working units from PRASA.

PRASA was to retain its present gauge and not revert to international standard gauge as implemented on Gautrain. The rolling stock programme, which also included new depots, would then also add to already existing projects, such as the current roll-out of a new signalling system and the improvement of station infrastructure.   Some of the first corridors targeted for a major overhaul by PRASA were Johannesburg to Naledi, and Khayelitsha to Cape Town. PRASA’s enterprise programme management office head, Piet Sebola, said that the new passenger trains would be 12-car units and that they would have to feature on-board wi-fi access and closed circuit television cameras to ensure commuter safety

As far as indigenisation was concerned, PRASA said the localisation target on the new rolling stock would be 65% and possibly in some cases reaching 80%. Local components could include the car body shell, door system, axles, wheels, lighting, interior cladding, bogie frame, windows and seats.

The first train is to be delivered to PRASA in 2015 and the new fleet in the first ten-year contract would be split between Gauteng, which would receive 2 400 coaches, the Western Cape 1 800, eThekwini 936 and the Eastern Cape 228.

Formal tender processes would begin in March and the successful bidder would be announced by the minister in June 2013

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