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Nancefield to Johannesburg Train service inspection

 

19 April 2024

 

Today, as we mark 30 years of democracy in our beloved nation, it's a moment of reflection and celebration. And as we bring back more passenger rail services, I want to discuss the transformative power of passenger rail services and how we are positively impacting communities.


Three decades ago, our people and the governing party ushered in an era of freedom, equality, and opportunity. The journey since then has been one of transformation, touching the lives of every South African, and passenger rail has been central to this transformative journey.


Ladies and gentlemen, as we celebrate 30 years of our democracy, we cannot overlook the deterioration of commuter rail services and the complete decimation of the rail network at the hands of criminal syndicates. 


Millions suffered the indignity of traveling on an unreliable commuter service, using trains that were not fit for purpose. Not only were they arriving at work late, but ever confronted with the possibility of being pushed off a moving train because of the doors that could not close. 


In those days, we saw people gradually move away from passenger rail as a mode of transport to more costly alternative modes of transport.


As a result, we are familiar with stories of single mothers and our gogo’s,  who have had to wake up at the crack of dawn to catch numerous taxis and buses to get to work, or to collect their social grants.


We heard of many who were forced to quit their jobs due to the exorbitant commuting costs.
But the picture is changing. This national government is making significant strides in restoring passenger rail services that are reliable, safe, modern and affordable.


To date, PRASA has restored 31 of the 40 lines nationally, with over 263 of the 463 stations that were vandalized refurbished to basic functionality. Just in Gauteng, PRASA has recovered 6 more lines that were targeted for the 2023/24 financial year.
Trains are now running from Hercules to Belle Ombre, Pretoria to Kaalfontein, Leralla to Germiston, Germiston to Johannesburg, Germiston to Elsburg, Johannesburg to Naledi, Johannesburg to Nancefield, Johannesburg to Florida, connecting the three great municipalities of Gauteng: Pretoria, Ekurhuleni, and the City of Johannesburg, all the way to the West Rand.
I am also pleased to tell you that since the recovery of the passenger rail services in 2020/2021 financial year, over 70 million passenger trips have been made to date, from a low base of 7.4 million passenger trips made in the 2020/21 financial year.
That is more than a ten-fold increase and that makes proud. 
Since the recovery of the Nancefield line, this service alone is making over 1 000 passenger trips per day.
Though we are not where we should be, this marks a significant improvement, and illustrates the demand for the service. It also tells the story that people are gradually choosing rail as their preferred mode of transport.


We anticipate that the numbers will steadily increase as more lines and stations are reopened, restoring passenger rail to its former glory, making it the backbone of public transport and with planned continuous improvements beyond the current achievements.
With the reopening of the Nancefield to Johannesburg railway line, we are seeing the transformative power of commuter rail services.
Residents from Klipspruit, Mlamlakunzi, Sebokeng, Orange Farm, can now travel to industrial parks in Braamfontein, Germiston and various destinations by train.


We are connecting people to places of work and economic opportunities - affordably. For soccer fans who enjoy watching games at the stadium, they can now travel to their favourite stadium via the Orlando station.


Just this morning, in the 45 minutes journey from Nancefield to Johannesburg, I have heard stories by the many people who use this service and heard of the countless stories of lives changed for the better since the reopening of the service.
In other re-openings of lines I had the privilege to meet a multitude of people, from your general workers, to Gogos, school children, young people fuelled by the spirit of revival of the rail lines which in many feeds the dreams of a people with high hopes for their democracy.


It is because through the revived spirit produced by an economy woken up from its slumber and people have begun to see change unfold, turning their dreams into reality.


As regards improvements that are happening in public transport, many are saying that they are relieved now that the trains are back and can get to their various destinations on time, without the stress and uncertainty that came with the old PRASA train services.
The people I have interacted with through this recovery journey appreciate the new high-tech trains, Isitimela Sabantu, that we are rolling out on our corridors, proudly manufactured right at our backyard in Dunnottar, Gauteng.


The people love the security features that come with the trains, they love the automated doors, the voice command that tells them of the next stopping stations and the air-conditioning system.


More importantly, they appreciate the savings they make on travelling costs. They can now put more money back into their pockets. No more can our people choose between commuting or buying a loaf of bread. With these new trains and the reopening of services, we are restoring dignity back to our people.


These advancements in passenger rail as we celebrate 30 years of our democracy, have had a profound impact on the social and economic well-being of our communities. By providing affordable and efficient transportation options, we have empowered marginalized groups, improved access to opportunities, and fostered greater social and economic inclusion.
Our people now have access to comfortable, modern trains that get them to their various destinations on time with the comfort of knowing that there is security onboard the train and on the station platforms.


Work continues on these lines and the stations. Soon, residents from Katlehong, Springs, Midway, Roodepoort to Residentia, will be able to access these services.


Our work now is to increase the frequency of the trains and reduce the waiting times for the next train to arrive. It is what they are asking for. The National signalling project has started in earnest.


The new modern signalling system will ensure that trains run frequently and safely and this is while work continues to rehabilitate the stations.


As this National Government, we made a commitment to not only empower our people but transform their lives. The investment made through our capital projects ensure that the economy continues to be the beacon of hope for many South Africans.
Through the passenger rail capital projects, around R30 billion has been invested over the last two years to stimulate the economy, and over 5000 jobs have been created nationally just this last financial year.


Another 312 jobs were created just on the rebuilding of the Nancefield line and 16 local SMMEs appointed, boosting the local economy in these areas. The skills and on-job experience acquired go a long way in improving the lives of our people.
The reopening of train services has also breathed in new life to the secondary/informal economy that was almost decimated when train services were suspended.


Traders can now earn a living at our stations selling their products to commuters and visitors of various stations. We are making a positive impact on their well-being.
Ladies and gentlemen, our democracy is not just about the right to vote. It is about the tangible impact it has on the lives of ordinary people.


It is about the promise of a better tomorrow for each and every South African, regardless of their background or circumstances.
During this momentous occasion, I am especially proud to highlight the transformative impact that PRASA's passenger rail services have had on the lives of our citizens as I just demonstrated.


Our journey to improve public transport and thus the lives of our people, does not end with passenger rail improvements, but includes a whole of public transport improvements.

 

Municipal Integrated Public Transport Network infrastructure delivery challenges
The objective of government with regard to municipal public transport, has always been to transform the current system into a system which is integrated and where all modes complement each other.


An important component of government’s objective is to position public transport to play the role of a catalyst for urban regeneration, the development of new mixed land use nodal precincts and the reconnection of isolated nodes to mainstream economic and social opportunities in cities, thereby transforming urban spaces.


Public Transport infrastructure, systems, service and operations are guided by pronouncements made in the 1996 and 2023 National White Paper on Transport Policy.


To give effect to the 1996 White Paper, the Department developed the National Land Transport Transition Act in 2000, the Public Transport Strategy in 2007, as well as the National Land Transport Act in 2009.
The development of Integrated Public Transport Networks entails the promotion of a growing public transport sector that is able to meet the needs of current and new users, with key goals being the delivery of functioning intermodal systems, high quality corridor-based services.


It is also meant to ensure adequate investment and re-investment and equitable basic access for a range of urban and rural users, including the poor, scholars, job seekers and special needs users.


The Department of Transport (DoT) has facilitated and funded the implementation of Integrated Public Transport Networks (IPTN) across 13 municipalities. Currently 8 cities have commenced operations of pilot or Phase 1 services.
We are similarly also hard at work to formalise the taxi industry and ensure that it becomes an essential part of the core of integrated public transport.


Therefore, As we look back on the past 30 years, let us also look forward with hope and determination. As we celebrate 30 years of democracy, we must acknowledge the significant strides we have made in transforming our passenger rail system as well as the continued improvements to road public transport as mentioned. Our work is therefore far from being done. We remain committed to further enhancing the quality, accessibility, and sustainability of our public transportation network, ensuring that no South African is left behind.

 

Together, we will continue to build a more connected, equitable, and prosperous nation – one where the power of passenger rail transforms the lives of all our people.



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