There hasn’t been much progress in the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa)’ R172 billion modernization project.
In fact, only one station has been completed out of the 135 priority stations, five years after the project kicked off. The modernization plan envisages to complete the revamping of all stations within a 20-year period but at this snail pace it will probably take longer to finish the work and the money budgeted would have ballooned by then.
From the current 135 stations identified as priority stations, 28 are at various stages of development inclusive of the four third-party [co-funded] projects – these being Leralla, Germiston, Roodepoort and Vereeniging,” says Prasa’s website.
When asked about the progress of the modernization programme, Prasa group chief strategy officer Dr Sipho Sithole explained rail in South Africa was more than 150 years old, with some current stations built as early as 1910.
“This means at no point were the stations built with the rolling stock in mind, hence the platform discrepancy for both the old and new trains,” Sithole said.
“You are welcome to go and check this at Pretoria station. Part of the modernization programme is platform rectification that will align the new trains with the platforms.”
Sithole said R59 billion would be spent on new rolling stock with the balance going to modernization.
“The platform rectification programme promotes access for disabled commuters. The station modernization is aimed at introducing efficient travel for all commuters, with the construction of elevators where necessary,” Sithole added.
“Station modernization and platform rectification programmes will deal with the issue of train to platform gap,” Sithole said, confirming a “total of 135 stations have been earmarked for stations for modernization over the next 20 years.”