Longer wait for PMB-DBN trains

2014-05-26 00:00

THE long-awaited business express train between Durban and Pietermaritzburg could hit the rails only in the next two months — five months late.

The trains were to start operating in February but structural problems with platforms and “licensing issues” caused delays to the project.

Zama Nomnganga, Metrorail’s provincial head of marketing and communication, said their engineers had raised concerns about the difficulty in getting the Pietermaritzburg platform running. Metrorail is a component of the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa).

“I was informed that the platform is old and that it has not been used for a long time. This called for the overall revamp of the facility and providing parking areas for those commuting between the cities. The work could be completed in the next two months,” said Nomnganga.

The two trains are expected to run between the two cities. One train is ready to run, while the other should be ready by the end of the month, according to Nomnganga.

Once the platform is completed, test runs will be done with one train for about two weeks in an attempt to ascertain the running costs.

Nomnganga said the licence to run the trains beyond Cato Ridge (to Pietermaritzburg) will be awarded just a month before the first official trip between the cities is launched.

The Metrorail line from Durban ends in Cato Ridge, and beyond this it becomes a national line.

“Our jurisdiction ends in Cato Ridge so we had to apply for the licence, which will be given to us just a month before we start our operation,” he said.

Once the test runs are over, ticket prices will be determined.

Andrew Layman, chief executive of the Durban Camber of Commerce and Industry, said he was not sure if anybody took the project seriously.

“Look, the general feeling is that this is one of those services that people begin to look at once they are implemented and see if they are convenient. The train will take more than one-and-a-half hours to reach the destination compared to the average 45 minutes by car,” he said.

The Witness reported last year that the trains were meant to be for business people, politicians and civil servants and are expected to have free Wi-Fi, newspapers and facilities to charge laptops and other devices.

They will each have a boardroom that can cater for 24 people and a coach with a bar.

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