New trains a welcome addition

2017-05-30 06:00

ALL aboard! The people’s train is here. I am excited like a little boy.

At last we have new world-class trains. The only thing to spoil my excitement is that President Jacob Zuma had the honour of unveiling the people’s train in Pretoria. But let that be. I love trains.

When I saw trains in First World countries I felt so despondent that we didn’t have such sleek, modern trains gliding away on our tracks.

Which train lovers would want to travel on our old local ones? They are so drab, untidy and unsafe.

But now we have the new ones. In bright blue, grey and white, they are a welcome sight to the dirty yellow, out- dated trains that have been in service for over 40 years.

But they come with a hefty price tag —R55 billion for 600 coaches and locomotives.

In all, Prasa, the troubled state entity that has already messed up once when it bought locomotives from Spain with the wrong gauge, intends to spend R173 billion over the next 20 years modernising and upgrading its ageing rail infrastructure to bring it in line with First World countries.

In his unveiling address, Zuma appealed to commuters not to burn the trains. A lot of money is being spent to make rail transport fast, efficient, safe and comfortable.

The new trains will have CCTV and air conditioning. We are not at war but still we are a violent nation.

So often service-delivery protests turn violent as angry crowds go on the rampage, destroying public property such as schools, universities, shops, clinics, vehicles and even books.

When trains are late because of some signalling fault caused by cable theft, the commuters burn them.

Which civilised nation burns books and trains?

Yet ours is a democracy with representatives of government at all levels. If they are not doing their job they must be held accountable.

Shouldn’t the masses vent their anger at them rather destroy public property? It will be a sad day to see the new trains go up in flames.



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