Pretoria - A revamp of rolling stock and rail infrastructure will see the creation of about 65 000 jobs, the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) said on Tuesday.
The programme would cost about R136bn, said Piet Sebola, manager of the project.
On the renewal of rolling stock, which was expected to cost R126bn, Sebola said an agreement had been reached with the Treasury on how the programme would be funded.
Details of the funding structure are expected to be released next week, when Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan
presents his 2012 budget.
Sebola and Prasa CEO Lucky Montana were adamant that they had secured the funding, which would see 7 200 coaches delivered between 2015 and 2035.
Montana said some of Prasa’s rolling stock was built more than half a century ago and desperately needs to be replaced with more efficient coaches and locomotives.
Some coaches would become museum pieces at railway stations, while others would be leased to other African countries, which have already enquired about old rolling stock.
Montana said the new coaches would have to be energy efficient.
Under the programme it was envisaged that a new rolling stock factory would be set up and a minimum of 65% of components would be locally manufactured.
Sebola said: “At least until the mid-1980s, South Africa had the capability and capacity to design and build its own trains. To some extent we lost that because of non-investment in South African railways for quite a while.”
The renewal programme would restore that capability.
Montana said it was not yet certain where the new rolling stock manufacturing facility would be established, but that several municipalities across the country have expressed interest.
The modernisation of the rolling stock and infrastructure would result in faster train times, with commuter trains travelling between Johannesburg and Pretoria in under an hour.
He did not view the improvements as competition with the Gautrain, but hoped for greater integration between bus networks and commuter rail networks, including the Gautrain.
Sebola said the current narrow rail gauge - known as the Cape gauge - would be kept and upgraded, and it was hoped trains would reach speeds of up to 120km/h.
Most of the proposed rolling stock would be distributed to regions with high passenger volumes including Gauteng, Cape Town and eThekwini.