Mabopane to Pretoria trains back on track next month – Prasa

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The newly installed electric line and signalling equipment on the Mabopane to Pretoria line. Photo: Sthembiso Lebuso
The newly installed electric line and signalling equipment on the Mabopane to Pretoria line. Photo: Sthembiso Lebuso

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After failing to meet its deadline last month, the Passenger Rail Agency (Prasa) said that it was close to getting the Mabopane corridor operational.

On Tuesday, Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula tweeted videos of the new trains doing a test run on the Mabopane corridor in Pretoria.

“Trains will be back ... watch it unfold 2022,” he tweeted.

Last week Prasa said it had reached several milestones in the Mabopane Recovery Project including:

  • Rehabilitation of the overhead electrical lines;
  • Completion of work at 14 substations; and
  • Running old and new electric trains on both lines between Mabopane and Pretoria under the newly constructed infrastructure.

The agency said its technical team had submitted the safety declaration for the tracks and the electrical systems to the Railway Safety Regulator (RSR).

“The team is now preparing to submit the safety declaration for the signalling system to enable the RSR to issue the ‘no objection notice’, which will lead to the next phases of trial-runs, off-peak operations, and finally, the full commercial permit to operate the new trains,” read the statement.

READ: Prasa's finance chief next in firing line

“Prasa’s technical team is pulling extra hours for the resumption of the much needed services on the Mabopane corridor in time for peak demand. This is despite Prasa missing the deadline last month,” the agency said.

Prasa blamed a strike in the metal industry in October, the subsequent rolling power outages and “the unpredictable heavy rainfall” that hit the area for the delay of the completion of the project. It aimed to have the corridor working by the second week of next month.

According to Mbalula, the Mabopane corridor was a high priority for the presidential projects alongside the Cape Town central line.

According to the online publication Construction Review, the line serviced about 300 000 passengers a week before it was shut down for repairs in August.

Despite all these challenges, the technical team was resilient, optimistic and remains determined to see the project to its completion.

“A catch-up plan is currently in place and the team further anticipates that a full commercial service could launch in the second week of next month, coinciding with the resumption of economic activities following this month’s holidays,” the agency said.

However, most tracks on the corridor were still exposed with no fencing to protect the newly installed infrastructure. Last month, Mbalula told Parliament that Prasa had re-looked its security deployment strategies, including the armed response patrol patterns.

READ: Railways on verge of total collapse

“Over and above the internal security operations, Prasa will be deploying a further 5 000 guards sourced through various private security service providers, which will bolster the coverage of its infrastructure with both armed and unarmed guards based on a recent security risk assessment report,” the minister said.

A City Press team found a Prasa security team patrolling the tracks and new infrastructure this week. As part of the rehabilitation of the country’s rail infrastructure, Mbalula told Parliament there were plans to build 4m-high walls that are “impenetrable” and “vandal proof”.

Prasa
The tracks, overhead the electric lines are still exposed, here cows are seen grazing nearby. Photo: Sthembiso Lebuso

The walls minister said, would have additional security measures such as CCTV and electric fencing.


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