High-speed rail plan goes to cabinet

2011-02-22 14:33

Johannesburg - The proposed high-speed railway project between Durban and Johannesburg is ready to be presented to cabinet for approval, Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele said on Tuesday.

Cabinet approval would start a process which included a feasibility study on the viability of the rail link, Ndebele said.

The project was part of the transport department's plan to revitalise South Africa's rail industry and in the process unlock its economic potential and create jobs, he said.

He dismissed reports that President Jacob Zuma's son Duduzane Zuma, Lazarus Zim, the Gupta Brothers and their Chinese partners were in line to win the rights to construct the high-speed rail project.

"We wish to state that the department of transport will only call for expressions of interest on the Durban-Johannesburg high speed rail route in July 2011.

"In June 2011, we are also hosting an International Investors' Conference in Cape Town to consolidate the interests in our infrastructure projects, including the Durban to Johannesburg high-speed rail project," said Ndebele.

Once these expressions of interest were received, they would be subjected to a strict evaluation process and the preferred and winning bidders would be announced after an inclusive and transparent process.

"Taking this into consideration, there is no way that any party, including the media that is currently interested in the Durban to Johannesburg rail project, could know before we have even called for expressions of interest that they will win the rights to construct this rail project," he said.

Ndebele announced in September last year that as part of the national transport master plan (Natmap) 2010 to 2050, the department planned to revitalise the commuter rail network between Durban and Johannesburg.

In 2005, through Natmap, the department under the then transport minister Jeff Radebe, who is now minister of justice and constitutional development, conceptualised high-speed rail for Johannesburg to Durban, Johannesburg to Musina, and the Moloto Corridor between Tshwane and the former KwaNdebele in Mpumalanga.

  • WTF - 2011-02-22 15:04

    Is this really necessary???? Surely financing the Gauteng toll roads is # 1 priority! Gov cant even maintain the current rail network and now they want to build this just to line their pockets.

  • Will - 2011-02-22 15:09

    Its so difficult not to be cynical about these projects. I do hope that this succeeds though, though i do hope it’s equally aimed at transport of freight, then the transport of people.

  • Amandla - 2011-02-22 15:46

    To the idiots in the ANC. We need a wide gauge efficient cargo rail network to get the trucks off the national highways. Safer for road users with less wear and tear on the roads. High speed passenger rail over the distances you talk of is never cheaper than air travel and is slower. Therefore no one will use it. Why oh why is our government so inept?

  • zak - 2011-02-22 16:03

    I really don't think a rail network from Durban to JHb necssary, the distance is so small just a 6 hour drive. I think a rail network linking cape to JHB and cape to DBN is much better as the cost of flying is really high compared to DBN to JHB.

  • Brieuse - 2011-02-22 16:19

    If we had formal, safe, reliable public transport going to where I need to go and if I could get to Durban and back, and easily travel around while there, and when back, I would use it.

  • Masilo - 2011-02-22 16:25

    There goes another blander as if Gauteng toll road was not enough. This Transport Minister will never learn from his mistakes. This project will never benefit our country all the profit will be going to foreign companies. Please do some researches before you come up with another stupid idea.

  • tommy - 2011-02-22 16:45

    Why not just get the current infrastruture, or what remains, working? When will we realise that it is not just about throwing money at things to make them work, it is the will, passion , know how, comittment to make it work.Spoornet has always been run by a majority of semi skilled, inmotivated personnel. That is why it has never worked. Look at changing, skills, attitude and commmitment and then see it work!!.........but then again who will become enriched if we try this option?

  • karmlin - 2011-02-22 16:53

    it is about time that this project gets off the ground. hopefully it will lead to the completion of the triangle to cape town. it will be a huge catalyst to improve our gpd.

  • joel - 2011-02-22 17:00

    you guys are frustratingly cynical about everything, this (should it go ahead) is great news for the country, if you dont see it then tough. bringing up the toll road issue here is stupid aswell, how else would you suggest these roads get paid off? fuel hikes? higher tax? i say choo-choo ahead with this and other projects in the line up, so long as fiscal deficit is in check.

  • paul - 2011-02-22 19:53

    Why bother with high speed, a normal speed train would still be quicker then drivinvg and would be able to use the existing rail network. Stick roll on roll of car transporters on it and its an easy winner. But where is the money in that for our poor starving politically connected elite. Clearly a high speed line can only serve a high speed train and so would not be suitable for bulk cargos (imagine waiting behind a slow cargo train without the option of overtaking on the straight...) Better yet invest in a new canal system, use it to take the treated toxic mine water from the mines for diposal and let it take the bulk cargos at a fraction of the cost of the train price.. Plus provide a new recreational facility allowing the springing up of local services to support it. God knows we have enough people in this country whose education level would be spot on for the job of swinging a shovel and carrying a pick and people do need to be employed. And the kind of large low tech project that a cannel system entails would provide thousands of work opportunities. Still what would ever make me think that the government is interested in a co-ordinated transport policy... And finally toll roadss are a good idea if it means I can drive without being stuck in traffic. Lets all value our time a little higher.

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