The newly-established Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa, PRASA, merges the operations,
personnel and assets of the South African Rail Commuter Corporation, Metrorail,
Intersite Property Management Services, Shosholoza Meyl and the long distance bus
company, Autopax (Translux and City-to-City). As part of the process of integrating
these entities, the role of Intersite is being redefined in order to more effectively
support PRASA’s new strategic direction and objectives.
In the past, the institutional arrangements that governed passenger rail and the
entire public transport system did not promote efficiency, innovation and accountability.
There was also a great deal of confusion between the contractor and regulatory functions
embodied in the South African Rail Commuter Corporation (SARCC). It was essential,
therefore, to overcome the fragmented and dysfunctional institutional arrangements
that existed in the provision of passenger services.
A key Government consideration was the need to find sustainable funding solutions
as part of its efforts to reverse the decline in commuter rail services. The National
Rail Plan, approved by Cabinet in December 2006, identified the funding and investment
requirements for passenger rail over the next 10 years.
PRASA is at the forefront of Government efforts to transform public transport in
South Africa, with rail services forming the backbone of the network. The essence
of PRASA is to integrate inter-modal facilities and services into public transport
solutions that optimise the performance of the whole transport system.
Beyond this, the most important reason for consolidating passenger rail entities
was the need to address the under-performance of rail passenger services and the
historical under-investment in this sector. The mobilisation by ordinary South Africans
and their determination to have access to decent public transport, together with
the urgent need for efficient public transport during the 2010 FIFA World Cup, were
also among the key drivers for the transformation.
Government aims to achieve the following key objectives in the future:
- Sustainability of passenger rail service delivery;
- Improvement of passenger rail services in terms of quality and passenger service
- Improved efficiency in service delivery;
- Improved effectiveness of asset management;
- Effective targeting of subsidies to achieve socio-economic & transport objectives;
- Improved oversight by Government; and
- Improved accountability to users.
PRASA’s establishment also comes against the background of major changes in the
world that present opportunities for the railway industry to play a positive role
in global development.
The first step is to acknowledge South Africa’s strong railway tradition with the
aim of using past learnings to enable PRASA to rise to the new challenges of providing
effective and efficient public transport in this country. It’s also of vital importance
to mobilise the energies of each employee in creating a railway service that forms
an integral part of the renewal of the transport system and our society as a whole.
There is growing consensus that things can no longer be done in the old way. There
is a need for rapid change that must be led by PRASA’s most important resource –
its people; real change that will make PRASA and all South Africans very proud.
The Government has taken the lead by creating a new organisation that moulds rail
passenger transport into a single entity and adds long distance road based services,
in an effort to broaden the strategic leverage that can be deployed in support of
government’s socio-economic and transport objectives.
Simply put, PRASA is about mobility and accessibility – the movement of people -
and providing them access to real opportunities that will help them improve their
lives. The organisation’s key objective will therefore be to promote rail as the
preferred mode of transport for the masses.
PRASA is made up of five distinct business units:
- PRASA Rail Operations
PRASA Rail Operations is the Rail Operating Division of PRASA which manages urban
metro commuter and long distance intercity and cross border train services.
- Metrorail (including Business Expresses) - commuter rail
service in urban metropolitan areas
- Shosholoza Meyl (including Premier Classe) - regional and
long-distance (inter-city) rail-based passenger transport services
- PRASA Corporate Real Estate Solutions (PRASA CRES) - property management
and portfolio development.
The specific mandate of PRASA CRES, is strictly to manage PRASA’s Property Portfolio
(Real Estate Management), Optimisation and Commercialisation of Space, Custodian
of PRASA Accommodation Policy, Facilities Management, Station Improvement Programme
as well as Station Upgrades. PRASA CRES is expected to focus on Prasa’s Property
- PRASA Technical
PRASA Technical is the “owner” of PRASA’s rolling stock depots and workshops and
is responsible for the management of these depots and the maintenance personnel
in the various depots. Technical is therefore responsible for rolling stock maintenance
and will render services to both Metrorail and Mainline Passenger Services (MLPS)
in terms of availability and reliability, to ensure improved performance of the
existing rolling stock fleet. As part of the Rolling Stock Fleet Renewal Programme,
PRASA Technical will manage and oversee the modernization of rolling stock depots
and the building of new depots and related infrastructure.
- Autopax PTY Ltd - road based regional (inter-city) passenger
bus services (Translux and City-to-city).
- Intersite Investments
Intersite’s revised mandate is to leverage against the Group’s large asset base
responsible for property and asset and development and drive the commercialisation
of PRASA assets. With the major shift in PRASA’s strategic objectives to deliver
on it’s vastly increased mandate. The primary role of Intersite within the PRASA
Group is to develop and grow the assets of PRASA to generate funding for the Group.
At present, the PRASA Group constitutes around 70% of the resources coming from
Government as subsidies, while the balance comes from internally generated cash-flow.
PRASA’s challenge will be to reduce its dependence on government subsidies by innovatively
positioning itself so that it can generate resources from the exploitation of its
assets. By driving efficiency measures, raising fare income by increasing passenger
numbers and improving revenue from the property portfolio, the subsidy per passenger
is expected to decrease. The goal is to ensure that the subsidy benefits the maximum
number of passengers.
PRASA’s critical objective over the next few years is to upgrade the existing passenger
railway system in order to meet the challenges of a modern society. This means implementing
plans for the modernisation of the signalling, telecommunications systems, rolling
stock and train operating systems. Its business units will focus on the delivery
of high-quality services.
For PRASA to operate more effectively, it must consolidate a number of strategic
functions that impact on the efficient running of Metrorail, Shosholoza Meyl and
Autopax. Strategic Asset Management and allocation of investment resources will
therefore be a key function, as well as implementing funding models aimed at ensuring
that transport services are provided on a sustainable basis.