Decision to re-introduce rail service spot-on

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

East London - Nomthi Hlazo is just one of thousands of commuters that have used the Eastern Cape's Kei Rail passenger service since its re-introduction a month ago.

The East London resident, who recently used the train to visit her family in Mthatha, said the service was a welcome return and described her seven-hour journey as a "pleasant experience".

"It was such a pleasant experience because of the improvements that have been implemented since its re-introduction. All it cost me was R30," said Hlazo.

Provincial transport department spokesperson, Ncedo Kumbaca, said almost 9 000 people have travelled on the train between East London and Mthatha since the service's re-introduction in June. He added that the service has improved mobility and accessibility for rural communities living along the Kei Rail line.

"The recent passenger volumes statistics show that there's a growing interest in this service. On Monday two weeks ago, the train transported a record 791 passengers," said Kumbaca.

Transport MEC Thandiswa Marawu said these figures were proof that the decision to re-introduce the service was a good one.

"These numbers clearly show that we made the right decision by getting this project back on track. There's big business potential for various public transport modes if they work together through a feeder system to support this project," said Marawu.

She also urged public transport operators to work together with the service so that they complement each other.

"Going forward, we're going to hear less about taxis, buses and trains. Instead we will talk about the public transport industry. We call upon all role players in these industries to be geared for this integrated approach and to start working together," added Marawu.

The department has allocated R67 million for the project for the current financial year.