Johannesburg - Plans for a makeover of South African trains
to install air conditioning, security cameras and bigger seats in all passenger
coaches were unveiled on Tuesday.
The state-of-the-art blue and silver trains would become a
reality in 2015, the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) said in Johannesburg.
CEO Lucky Montana said the current fleet would be replaced
and all trains - commuter and long distance - would boast high level security,
bigger seats, a new shape and better communication and technology.
"These trains will bring comfort and the doors will
close automatically. People who try and stop the doors will get hurt and there
will also be no more hanging from trains," he said, describing the
"The trains will have aircon and will have CCTVs. So
those who burn trains - we will be able to catch them on camera. These trains
will have a route map, so there will be a voice giving the routes. These modern
trains will also have on-board communication."
He said the long-distance trains would have WiFi and toilet
A signalling facility would ensure that the trains braked
automatically if drivers drove too fast in certain areas, if two trains were on
the same track and if level crossings were not closed.
Montana said the trains would be designed for people with
disabilities and special needs, and would include wheelchair facilities.
With 80% more capacity, Montana said it was hoped
overcrowding would be a thing of the past in commuter trains.
The rolling stock fleet renewal programme would ensure that
all the trains would be manufactured and assembled in the country.
He said the current trains could not meet the expectations
of the commuters and had reached a low level of reliability.
"The current fleet have served the country so well, but
they have now reached the end of their run."
The upgrades were not limited to the trains. There would be
upgrades to train stations, and sub-stations would also be replaced to ensure
there was reliable electricity on the railways.
During peak hours the capacity would be increased and trains
would be available every three to five minutes from 2015.
With an average age of 39 years for the current 4 638
coaches operating in Gauteng, Durban, Western Cape and the Eastern Cape,
Montana said the upgrade was necessary.
"It was a mistake for South Africa to not invest in
railway for the past 33 years," he said.
"We are paying the price for that lack of
About 90% of the current trains were purchased in the 1950s,
with the last purchase made in 1986.
With a fleet this old, the technology was also dated and
Prasa said the systems technology of all trains would be replaced to ensure
Montana said that despite the upgrades to the trains and the
infrastructure, there would be no significant effect on the wallet of
"We are not looking at increasing fares in the next
five years on a massive scale; there will be adjustments to meet inflation, but
we are saying that the current workers can't bear the burden for the
Prasa invested R123bn to the upgrade over a period of 20
years and production of the trains are set to start in 2014.
On November 5, Prasa announced that it has accepted a $5.8bn
(about R73.9bn) deal with French company Astom for the programme.
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