Tag Archive | railways

Green Paper on rail transport published

sent to clients 12 October…..

National rail policy mapped out…..

metrorailA Green Paper on South Africa’s National Rail Policy has been published for comment naming the country’s challenges in rail transportation, recommending policy direction and containing broad proposals for the way forward to develop the current rail network.

Gazetted recently, the Green Paper represents work commenced in 2010 and says the document “Seeks to revitalise the local railway industry by means of strategic policy interventions”.   Not only is freight rail included in the proposals but long-distance rail passenger and localised commuter services.

Road dominates at a cost

Minister Peters said in a media statement at the time that railways in South Africa had operated for almost more than a century without a proper overarching policy framework to guide development.   “The railway line and its railway stations have played a pivotal role in the day-to-day lives of communities, especially those in the rural areas, but as far as freight is concerned, 89% of freight is still transported by road and the future of commuter rail conducted on an ad hoc basis”.

roadsThe emphasis of road transport is costing the country millions of rands annually in road maintenance, money that could have been well spent on developing freight rail, she said.

The process

Cabinet last month approved the release of the Green Paper for public consultation. When all is finished, a final White Paper on National Rail Policy will be released to guide and direct development of infrastructure and develop more modern commuter systems. A National Rail Act will be the final result of the White Paper.

These interventions, according to Minister Peters, will reposition both passenger and freight rail for inherent competitiveness by “exploiting rail’s genetic technologies to increase axle load, speed, and train length.“

Lining things up

railway lineWider-gauge technologies are on the cards.   The government has said it is converting 20 000km of track to standard gauge from the narrower Cape gauge. This would bring the network in line with an African Union resolution on the subject and at the same time would boost capacity of goods carried, with longer trains and a reduction in transportation costs.

With both passenger and freight rail falling within its scope, part of the envisaged national transport policy includes involvement by the department of transport (DOT) in the local government sphere to create capabilities to move more passengers by rail with infrastructure, more rail line and technical assistance.

Creating local commuter rail

Secondly, once the localised capacity is in place, DOT says it will be able to appropriate subsidies for urban commuter rail, the management of the mini-systems then being devolved to municipalities themselves.

The Green Paper talks of investment and funding, private sector participation, inter-connection with the sub-Continent, skills planning, investment strategies and the start of a regulatory system.     Part of the master plan at operations level would include a branch line strategy with the private sector involved to improve connection between cities with towns and industrial areas.

Other articles in this category or as background

Transnet improves on road to rail switch – ParlyReportSA

South Africa remains without rail plan – ParlyReportSA

Minister comments on taxi and rail plans – ParlyReportSA

PRASA gets its rail commuter plan started – ParlyReport

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PRASA gets its rail commuter plan started

Thousands of new coaches to be built for a start…..

Delivery of the first of new rail car rolling stock will start arriving in South Africa during the beginning of 2015 with a factory being built in South Africa to complete the balance of 3,600 new coaches, all being part of a R51bn passenger coach contract recently concluded  by the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) with Gibela Rail Transportation.

CEO of PRASA, Lucky Montana, told the parliamentary committee on transport two weeks ago that the entire the current fleet would be replaced in the course of time and all trains, both commuter and long distance, would boast high level security, bigger seats, a new shape and better communication and technology.    A statement was issued in early December confirming that the tender had been won by Gibela.

Worldwide tender process instigated

Minister Sibusiso Ndebele instigated the tender system for new rolling stock in mid-April this year “inviting manufacturers from all over the world to participate in the procurement process” and during the launch indicated a target of 65% localisation target as part of the bid conditions for the new rolling stock.

He said then that “PRASA must ensure the manufacture of an estimated 7,224 Metrorail coaches nationally to meet the passenger demand over the next 20 years as well as the upgrading and the construction of new rail infrastructure such as depots facilities and signalling.”    Investment projects at key national high-passenger demand corridors in KwaZulu Natal, Western Cape and Gauteng were critical he said.

Hand in hand with necessary infrastructure

In addition, PRASA is currently implementing a series of such as the construction of a rail link for the Bridge City development north of Durban as well as the Greenview doubling project east of Tshwane “which will address the archaic single rail design and cater for the increased demands for a more efficient service in this area”.

Over 50 station upgrades, the building of new stations and developing “intermodal hubs” are underway in conjunction with local and provincial governments.  Montana said at the time,  “We have chosen strategic high-passenger corridors as our key upgrade corridors where the demand for our service is quite high with an average 30,000 to 60,000 passengers at peak hours”.

As far as the new contract is concerned, Montana said this week, “It was a mistake for South Africa to not invest in railway for the past 33 years. We are paying the price for that lack of investment.” About 90% of current passenger coach rolling stock was purchased in the 1950s, with the last purchase made in 1986, he said.

State of art travel

 “The new coaches will have air-conditioning  and will have CCTVs for security plus on-board communication”, he said, adding that automatic doors would be included on the short-haul coaches that the long distance trains would have WiFi installed, plus modern toilet facilities.

“We are not looking at increasing fares in the next five years on a massive scale; there will be adjustments to meet inflation, but we are saying that the current workers can’t bear the burden for the upgrade.”

À la Française

PRASA has now invested R123bn to the upgrade its portfolio over a period of 20 years and production of the trains are set to start in 2014. It was in November that PRASA announced that it had accepted a tender from French company Alstom for the programme, Gibela now being announced as the name of the consortium formed as a result.  Canadian, Spanish and Chinese companies also bid.

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