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PRASA Advances Recovery of Cape Town's Central Line Amid Vandalism Challenges

Published February 28, 2024
4 months ago

The Passenger Rail Service of South Africa (PRASA), responsible for facilitating commuter rail services within major urban areas, is shaping a positive trajectory for the restoration of Cape Town’s central railway line. This key route, stretching from the bustling Central Business District (CBD) through Langa, Mitchells Plain, Khayelitsha, to Belhar, has faced a long period of inactivity since November 2019, mainly due to rampant theft and severe vandalism.

Trains on this line ceased operations as the dilapidation of railway infrastructure rendered the route untenable for safe travel, deeply affecting daily commuters dependent on this public transport artery. PRASA's CEO Hishaam Emeran articulated this forward momentum when addressing Parliament's Standing Committee on Public Accounts, highlighting crucial developments in the recovery efforts.

A crucial phase of the rehabilitation has been the reclamation of railway land, which has involved the relocation of nearly 900 households from the Nyanga to Philippi track section. These families were settled on a designated land parcel near the Stock Road station, paving the way for unfettered construction work.

Transnet, South Africa's state-owned freighting and logistics company, is spearheading the operation to remove the old and install new railway tracks along this strategic corridor. Furthermore, extensive electrical repairs are concurrently in motion to replace the overhead traction equipment — a vital component for the electric trains.

Asserting the urgency and intensity of these refurbishments, Emeran disclosed an ambitious timeline to conclude significant portions of the project within March. Among these undertaking is ensuring that the stretch between Nyanga and Philippi, which needs extensive construction activities, witnesses considerable progress.

To preclude a recurrence of the vandalistic blight that led to the shutdown, Emeran underlined the proactive defense measures being implemented. Specifically, tenders have been awarded for the construction of robust walling and fencing arrangements, particularly along high-risk segments such as the Langa to Nyanga stretch. As an additional fortification, the cables laid across this passage will be encased in concrete, mitigating the likelihood of theft and safeguarding the railway’s critical assets.

This endeavor is not only about recovering from past setbacks but also propelling a safer and more secure railway system moving forward. The aspirational reboot of the central line positions PRASA at the heart of urban regeneration and reliable public transportation, fostering improved mobility for Cape Town's residents.

The palpable progress on Cape Town's central line signals a beacon of hope for the revitalization of public infrastructure. It is indicative of PRASA’s commitment to remedying past failures and recalibrating its focus towards a sustainable future for South African commuter rail services.

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