Metrorail improves services

Monday, November 4, 2019

The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) War Room has made progress in improving the service offered to its customers.

“Our commitment to improving the lives of our people through an efficient, reliable and safe passenger rail service has never been greater. We remain mindful of Prasa’s contribution in enabling economic activity, while enabling the mobility of our people to access social amenities,” Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula said.

The Minister was on Monday updating members of the media on the progress of the Prasa War Room, launched in August 2019 to address a number of challenges that include overcrowding, improving on time arrivals, safety management and the implementation of the Modernisation Programme.

“Since the inception of the War Room, Metrorail’s on-time performance has improved and we are on course towards achieving our goal of 85%.  The morning peak at the start of the War Room was 49% and by the end of last week, on-time performance had increased to 60%.  The afternoon peak, on the other hand, increased from 55% to 63%.

“We had also committed to ensuring that Metrorail introduces a morning peak service on the new trains operation between Pienaarspoort and Pretoria stations.  Since the introduction of this service, passenger numbers have increased to more than 51 000.  Paying passengers increased from a mere 39% to more than 90%, whilst on-time performance on this corridor has increased to 96%,” the Minister said.

Mbalula said he was encouraged that serious attention is being given to internal inefficiencies, with particular focus on achieving efficient engineering solutions, effective maintenance and operations management, systems engineering, and reliability improvement. 

“This work is currently being carried out by the PRASA Rail Research Chair at Stellenbosch University.  The Prasa Engineering Research Chair is a multi-engineering discipline research group strategically positioned in the Department of Industrial Engineering to research and solve railway and related engineering problems,” the Minister said.

The War Room has also focused on ensuring that the Mainline Passenger Services (MLPS) runs an efficient and predictable service, with a marked improvement in performance and a predictable timetable.

A new timetable has been developed and aligned with prevailing network conditions and availability.  The MLPS is made up of Shosholoza Meyl and Premier Classe.

“A technology system to monitor, detect, and proactively prevent criminal conduct and vandalism of the rail network, infrastructure, assets, and facilities has been approved and will be rolled out in the coming months.

“Central to achieving our goals to reduce delays and cancellations to a bare minimum, there has been a focused effort to ensure that target of 164 trainsets availability by 31 December 2019 remains on course,” the Minister said. 

He said the War Room continues to monitor available trainsets on a daily basis.  

Gauteng has increased its trainsets availability by three from 71 to 74, whilst KwaZulu-Natal also recovered three sets from 23 to 26.  

Mbalula said the Western Cape has been on track for five weeks, running with an average of 55 trainsets, but saw a drop to 48 sets due to a shortage of wheels and break blocks.

“Similarly, two sets were lost due to derailment and arson, and will take time to return them to service. Eastern Cape has met its 100-Day commitment of nine locomotives and currently has a 100% on-time configuration,” the Minister said.

He said the security of passengers, workers and assets remain at the core of the interventions and a source of serious concern. 

“This is one of the areas where we need to redouble our efforts to ensure that those who use our services are free from harm.  While the work done by Prasa in addressing security gaps is encouraging, we need to accelerate our interventions,” the Minister said. –