The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) is set to increase its capital spending over the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) with a budget of over R50 billion for rolling stock and infrastructure investments.
“We have increased our capital spending due to the reopening of some of the key corridors. Now we plan on spending R50 billion from this financial year and over the next three years to support the modernisation of the passenger rail network and the implementation of our turnaround plans,” PRASA Group CEO Hishaam Emeran said.
He made these remarks during the Southern African Railway Association’s two-day conference in Johannesburg on Tuesday.
“We are making significant strides in recovering the passenger rail network. To date, 26 corridors of the 40 corridors have been recovered, with over 19 million passengers using the services to date. Just on the corridor recovery we have spent R3.6 billion to date in this financial year, with more than 6 000 jobs created.
“This investment will go a long way in contributing to the growth of the economy. We are not just rebuilding the passenger rail network; we are modernising the entire network. This is an ambitious and bold plan, and we intend to use the allocated budget to turn this vision into a reality,” Emeran said.
Projects under PRASA’s ambitious capital programme for the next three years include the rolling stock modernisation programme; depot modernisation programme; walling, station modernisation programme; perway infrastructure; electrical infrastructure; signalling and telecommunications and digitisation of our systems.
He said measures have been put in place to ensure PRASA increases its capital spend, including addressing challenges within supply chain management and capital projects capacity challenges.
“Where we have recovered the passenger rail services, we have introduced the new Electric Motor Units (EMUs), otherwise known as Isitimela Sabantu. The trains that we are introducing are high-tech that come with CCTV cameras, automatic doors, air-conditioning, and high-tech safety measures, designed with the safety of commuters in mind.
“These trains are manufactured here in South Africa, in Springs, Gauteng, by Gibela. Our depot modernisation programme will include the installation of intelligent fencing at the various rolling stock depots and staging yards, incorporating CCTV as well as integrated security systems to replace the existing fencing,” Emeran said.
In addition, PRASA is revitalising the signalling system, bringing in modern telecommunications in line with the European Train Control System ushering a new era in signalling safety.
“Work has started in KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape to resignal the passenger rail network to ensure the safe passage of the trains and increasing the frequency of our services. These projects are all part of our ambitious capital programme where we intend to invest in the economy,” he said.