New trains will bring relief

2019-04-16 06:00
President Cyril Ramaphosa visited the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) where he was briefed on Prasa’s efforts to improve commuter services and stimulate economic activity and industrialisation through its modernisation programme. He also observed the testing of the two new train sets. He was joined by the Minister of Transport, Blade Nzimande, Premier Helen Zille among other delegates.PHOTO: jaco marais

President Cyril Ramaphosa visited the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) where he was briefed on Prasa’s efforts to improve commuter services and stimulate economic activity and industrialisation through its modernisation programme. He also observed the testing of the two new train sets. He was joined by the Minister of Transport, Blade Nzimande, Premier Helen Zille among other delegates.PHOTO: jaco marais

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A Plumstead resident hopes that the new trains that will be rolled out will bring more safety and security to commuters.

For Ursula Schenker the subject of train safety is very close to home.

Her daughter Leigh Jansen narrowly escaped death when a train that she was travelling in was set alight on 30 May last year. The incident happened between Ottery and Heathfield train stations.

Several people lost their lives during these incidents and Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) lost several millions of Rands.

Though her daughter is back at work she says they still remember that day like it was yesterday.

“This is very difficult for us. My daughter stays next to the railway line and every train that passes brings is a painful memory of the day that she escaped the train with nothing but her life,” she says.

When the train passes, Schenker says Jansen shows her one of the windows that she escaped through.

“Each month she has to go back to the hospital for a check-up on her windpipe. I can see there is a problem with her ears as well. This affecting her a lot. Since then, she has never taken a train again,” Schenker says.

In an effort to ensure that commuter safety is prioritised and old train infrastructure is replaced, president Cyril Ramaphosa, visited Prasa in Cape Town where he was briefed on the agency’s efforts to improve commuting services and to stimulate economic activity and industrialisation through its modernisation programme. Ramaphosa also observed the testing of new train sets as part of Prasa’s Rolling Stock Fleet Renewal Programme that will see the manufacturing of more than 7000 new trains over a period of 20 years – close to 30 per month.

His visit follows his recent personal experience of commuter frustration and technical problems with rolling stock.

The train on which the president was travelling broke down, turning a 45-minute journey into a three-hour delay.

In Cape Town, Prasa will take the president through elements of the passenger rail sector’s 20-year modernisation programme. This programme aims to revitalise the rail industry through local manufacturing of parts, maintenance, the establishment of training facilities, the achievement of 65%local content, and training and skills development for Prasa employees and young people interested in the rail industry.

Government’s commitment to providing safe and sufficient passenger rail services that will benefit commuters and the economy is reflected in its investment of more than R170bn to ensure the following rail services:

. Modern, safe and reliable trains for commuters;

. Faster trains which will increase the capacity of the network;

. Improved overall safety of trains and reduced energy costs;

. Improved, predictable and reliable services to passengers.

Schenker says this is a step in the right direction.

“I also saw they are fixing the fence at Plumstead Train Station. How long it will take I don’t know, but my hope is that no one must go through what we went through because of trains being unsafe and easy targets,” she says.

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