40% of Metrorail trains are out-of-service

2019-05-17 08:49
Many Metrorail carriages have been destroyed by arson. (Ashraf Hendricks, GroundUp)

Many Metrorail carriages have been destroyed by arson. (Ashraf Hendricks, GroundUp)

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Train commuters will continue to bear the brunt of an ineffective rail service, as Prasa scrambles to get additional trains into service amid dwindling ticket sales. 

Transport Minister Blade Nzimande said 95 new trains will be supplied by August 2020, GroundUp reported.

As Prasa focuses on the distribution of new trains, nearly half of its countrywide fleet is out of service, either for maintenance or because of vandalism, arson and accidents.

This is according to the 2020/22 Prasa Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) corporate plan published on March 31.

The number of trains decreased from 288 sets in 2013/14, to 200 by the end of 2017/18. Since then it has decreased to 174, or 60% of the required capacity. (An older report states that Prasa requires 287 train sets.)


Of the 174 available trains, only half have the standard 12 coaches.

"This decline happened despite the general overhaul programme and repair interventions that amounted to billions of rand," according to the document.

All of these shortages contribute to the delays that have been plaguing the rail system which has adversely affected commuters for years.

According to data in the 2019/21 Prasa MTEF corporate plan, the Western Cape has an average train delay of 21 minutes; KwaZulu-Natal trains have an average delay of 31 minutes; and Gauteng trains have an average delay of 45 minutes. The data, however, is from 2016.

GroundUp was unable to verify these estimates.

Prasa reported that track conditions is deteriorating across all regions, as measured by the Track Quality index.

This deterioration of infrastructure has led to the implementation of more speed restrictions for the safety of commuters, which then translates into slower trains and increased delays, it said.

According to the March 31 document, Metrorail is recording fewer than 700 000 passenger trips per weekday when it is supposed to be capable of carrying 2.5 to three million passengers per day.

The estimated number of passenger trips for 2018/19 is 213 million, less than a third of the number a decade ago.

Commuter activist group #UniteBehind has questioned Prasa for not fixing its out-of-service fleet following last month's unveiling of two new trains.

Read more on:    prasa  |  public transport

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