Shosholoza Meyl ‘too slow’

2011-04-12 14:19

The Shosholoza Meyl passenger train is too slow to be viable and should be allowed to travel at 160km/h between Cape Town and Joburg, the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) said today.

“Long distance passenger trains cannot run at 60 to 70 km/h. It will never work. 140km to 160km an hour is possible on the current network,” Prasa chief executive Lucky Montana said in Joburg.

Montana said the service, which operates various train routes across South Africa and which was transferred from Transnet after Prasa’s formation in 2009, was operating “like a 1922 operation”.

Shosholoza Meyl needed different locomotives to what it had now.

Drivers had to make around five prolonged stops to change locomotives during the 27-hour journey.

“We could cut six hours of the journey to Cape Town. Why should we take 12 hours to get to Durban? Why should we take nine hours to get from Pretoria to Polokwane? That journey should take five hours and we will be able to compete with cars and buses,” he said.

Montana said Transnet had given an undertaking that it would spend R200 million to upgrade the Shosholoza Meyl before transferring it to Prasa, but that this had never happened.

“That money was spent on Transnet Rail Engineering.”

He questioned why South Africa gave preference to freight trains over commuter trains.

“We are the only country in the world where freight takes preference over commuter transport. We struggle to get Shosholoza locomotives onto the line.”

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