RETURN TO SERVICE OF THE MABOPANE LINE AND OVERSIGHT ON INFRASTRUCTURE REHABILITATION

Following relentless efforts since 2019 to rehabilitate and upgrade infrastructure in the Mabopane Corridor, the Railway Safety Regulator finally granted a No-Objection Notice allowing PRASA to commence operations with the new trains.

A programme to upgrade the infrastructure and implement necessary refurbishments was introduced in February 2020 following the President’s announcement of a R1.4 billion allocation for this purpose.

The Mabopane line has seen its fair share of challenges before the declaration of state of disaster and needed major infrastructure upgrades before the new trains could be deployed on this line.

We took a decision in 2019 to close down the line and accelerate the simultaneous rollout of infrastructure upgrades.

In recovering the vandalised Mabopane Corridor, of the R1.4 billion allocated to the project, over R700 million has been spent to date towards this project. This includes:

  • R255million for substation work, for 14 substations. The upgraded substations will now allow for more trains to be added on to the system. Copper content has been reduced to make PRASA assets less attractive to criminals. The newly installed traction transformers are more energy efficient.
  • 163km of Overhead Traction Equipment (OHTE) completed at a cost of R383 million.
  • R38 million on Mabopane perimeter walling on Signal Equipment rooms

Station rehabilitation programme for 23 Station at a cost of R100million has commenced.

Currently, 5 stations are operational where repairs were done to bring the stations to basic functionality. A contractor has been appointed to erect high strength concrete walls around 31 critical buildings, at a cost of R50 million. Designs have been completed for the construction of a wall to protect the corridor.

As part of the station upgrade programme minor renovations were effected at 5 stations for basic functionality and these are currently operational:

  • Mabopane Station;
  • Pretoria North Station;
  • Mountain View Station;
  • Hercules Station, and
  • Pretoria Station

Contractors have been appointed to rehabilitate an additional 6 stations and they will take occupation of the sites this week. The 6 stations are:

  • Soshanguve
  • Kopanong
  • Akasiaboom
  • Tailorshoop
  • Garankuwa
  • Dewildt

Of the total cost of R100million set aside for upgrades of 23 stations, R60million has already been committed and construction work is due to start before the end of January 2022. Procurement and work on the remainder of the stations will be undertaken and finalised during the course of this calendar year.

We saw the first of the new trains taking to the track on Monday, 17 January 2022. On the first day the service took off at a good start, although a number of teething problems were experienced.

26 trains were scheduled to operate, but only 21 operated. 5 of these were cancelled, with 2 cancellations in the morning peak, 2 cancellations off-peak and 1 cancellation in the afternoon peak. 13 trains experienced delays, 6 of these in the morning peak and 7 off-peak. No delays were reported in the afternoon peak.

Issues that led to delays and cancellation include technical glitches and first day teething issues. Some of the problems were exacerbated by power interruptions. A total of 1 208 passengers used the train service on the first day.

On the second day all the technical glitches that gave rise to delays and cancellations were resolved as a result there were no cancellations on Day 2. The only delay was for 6 minutes.

As we rebuild the passenger railway lines, we are putting measures in place to ensure that the newly installed equipment is protected through improved security interventions, inclusive of the walling programme, to avoid reccurrence of the current situation.

The 3 corridors in the Gauteng region consists of a number of lines. Of the lines that have were badly damaged, 12 have been identified as critical for returning commuter rail services to normal operations.

The Gauteng region consists of 16 corridors. 12 others have been identified as priority corridors for major rehabilitation work.

3 corridors are currently operational in Gauteng:

Pienaarspoort to Pretoria services which resumed operations on 17 January 2022
Mabopane to Pretoria services which resumed operations on 17 January , 2022
Saulsville to Pretoria resumed a limited service in October 2021

The Johannesburg to Naledi line will resume operations on 30 March 2022.

The White Paper on National Transport Policy enjoins us to deliver rail services in a seamleslly integrated manner
with other land-based public transport modes. As I indicated in Cape Town, the White Paper on National Rail Policy, which gives expression to this integration, will be tabled before Cabinet in the coming weeks. I am therefore pleased that we have finally returned the Mabopane Line, to full service by the end of July 2022.

Source & photo : PRASA

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