Prasa reveals sleek new trains

2012-12-12 09:00

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 features. 

"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 facilities. 

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 investment." 

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 safety. 

Montana said that despite the upgrades to the trains and the infrastructure, there would be no significant effect on the wallet of commuters. 

"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 upgrade." 

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.


  • herman.bester.58 - 2012-12-12 09:15

    Watch the govie find a way to make us pay for these aswell.

      jackey.moss - 2012-12-12 13:18

      Just put a Gantry over the rails as usual and Prasa will be forced to pay tolls for trains (must be a world first) and Prasa will have no choice but to pass the extra cost to the consumer...The Greed of this government is beyond words...

  • shaun.miekle - 2012-12-12 09:15

    Let us also see the bank account of the "sleek new tenderpreneurs"

      warren.vanwyk.3 - 2012-12-12 12:09

      I bet you a months pay there is a Zoooomer (or two) involved in this this project.

  • citizen.kane.35 - 2012-12-12 09:15

    Let me get this right and i quote "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 upgrade." HUH? Who's gonna pay and how? Oh wait they're probably going to tax us on petrol or e-toll money will be 'diverted' to 'subsidise' this .Cant wait for the spin on this sales pitch. The cynic in me says i hope these trains are more fireproof and vandal 'resistant'...

      om.nom.nom.01 - 2012-12-12 10:58

      citizen.kane.35... vandal 'resistant?????? Bwhaahaahaahaahaa!!!!!! The only thing that is "vandal resistant" is a Toyota. :-)

      omge.klits - 2012-12-12 11:21

      "fireproof" - Bwhaahaahaahaahaa!!!!!!

      rob.bancroft.94 - 2012-12-13 14:44

      Hey, lukie mampara, are you saying their comments do not have a point? Do you have proof they did not make similiar comments about the gautrain? If you bother to read comments, you will actually see that the so-called negative comments come from other races as well, including yours.

  • lydonmcg - 2012-12-12 09:19

    As usual, you have negative nellies complaining about even significant and much-needed progress. This is an excellent move and one I support greatly.

      francois.j.botma - 2012-12-12 09:44

      @lydonmcg - I agree with you that the upgrade is needed and believe it is a move in the right direction. There will always be a risk that fraud creeps into the process and the funding mechanism is not clear either taking into consideration that the users will not be taking up the bulk of the payment. For SA it will however mean better public transport which if managed properly will be to the advantage of all of us.

      Justin van Noort - 2014-04-29 17:43

      Damn straight. It's awesome news - it brings SA on a par with other developed nations in terms of rail transport. Better public transport = better economic growth. Fact.

  • bless.boswell - 2012-12-12 09:22

    Nice, but How much of that is going into somebody's pocket?

  • shaun.miekle - 2012-12-12 09:24

    More for the barbarian masses to burn when they are upset

  • anakin.skyvader.9 - 2012-12-12 09:25

    PLEASE make sure to install 24-HR CCTV with DVR's OUTSIDE the trains as well, to prevent vandalism from railway platforms as well, and think about UPS systems that will allow the trains at least an extra 10x minutes to get to the next station in case of a power-failure.

  • chris.shield - 2012-12-12 09:57

    About time! One only has to travel by train in Europe and then do the same here to see how far behind our railways are. I just wish Spoornet wasn't so hung up on bulk minerals and hadn't let our branchline network fall apart. The whole reason our "R" roads are in such a state is the amount of truck traffic thats using them to carry freight that should be on trains...

  • janzanele - 2012-12-12 10:04

    this will help people like me to get my job at UCW,as one it's has biggest infastracture to manufacture trains,I was the part of those who build Gautrain so it won't be difficult for us to build a train of that calibre

  • craig.hopkins.376 - 2012-12-12 10:07

    Bigger seats must considering most of the bigger arses they would need to accommodate

  • stompies.hattingh.5 - 2012-12-12 10:14

    Thanks to Maria Ramos

  • zaaristotle - 2012-12-12 10:32

    The pictures look nice. I hope this comes to fruition, SA really deserves decent public transport. Hopefully the timetables (and frequency) will be adjusted and adhered to as well. Good going.

  • en.gineer.359 - 2012-12-12 10:49

    Trains will be built in SA....good news.

      omge.klits - 2012-12-12 11:22

      So why are we paying the French 52 billion ?

      en.gineer.359 - 2012-12-12 11:27

      The French are the main contractors. There might be some key components that the French are simply better at manufacturing. It's misguided to think R52 billion is flowing out the country, because the whole project has 69% localization. People just want a reason to be negative, simple as that.

      rob.bancroft.94 - 2012-12-13 14:40

      Just the poorly informed bunch, that's all.

  • zizzy.sipondo - 2012-12-12 11:40

    This is great news!!!!!!!!!

  • nicolene.kotze1 - 2012-12-12 11:52

    Oh great, I can't wait!!! :)

  • Isaac Lekgola - 2012-12-12 13:40

    its like taking one step forward and two steps back...why do you have to always award major contracts like these to foreign you think we are so dumb to such an extent that there is no company in the country or africa, capable of handling contracts of this magnitude..haven't you learned anything after all these years, when are you going to open your eyes loose that inferiority complex when comperd to europe and america. i bet when the french want to build a new bridge or something, they will never award the contract to anyone who is not french. you say your free man but you steal behave like slave looking his master

  • jupiter909 - 2012-12-12 15:27

    I fail to see how the design, construction and maintenance of trains could not be done 100% locally. We have the skills!

  • Mbuso Siera - 2012-12-12 18:33

    this is great news for the country's railway commuters....though the were controversies on the awarding of the tender by the public not having much details...this whole project will benefit this country.....

  • mohammed.dinath.18 - 2012-12-12 23:17

    introduce seprate coaches for ladies and children under 10 years like japan and india

  • mohammed.dinath.18 - 2012-12-12 23:19

    introduce a system on metro trains for coaches for ladies and children under 10 like japan and india .we will see many more people using trains

  • nhlapop - 2012-12-13 09:54

    And bloody idiots are going to burn them.

  • craig.gwasira - 2012-12-13 12:11

    I am elated about this as this will eventually encourage more people to use trains therefore reducing road traffic and emmissions. As much as the contractor is a foreign company, i hope the spares and mantainance equipment will be locally produced so that costs are kept as low as possible. Prasa needs to invest in training and educating the personel involved in the whole project well in advance,from technicians, operators and those that will be in direct contact with the public such as customer service and public relations. Its good to have an initiative of this nature but its much better if this goodness is reflected through the work and commitment employees to the public at large.

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