New Metrorail stock to stimulate investment

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Pretoria - Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele says the acquisition of new stock worth R97 billion for Metrorail and long-distance rail services will serve as a catalyst for the implementation of a major rail investment plan.

The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) - which operates Metrorial - is embarking on a bold programme to invest in new rail rolling stock over a period of 18 years.

Government has said it will contribute R30.2 billion to the project over the next three years. A further amount of R19.5 billion has been earmarked for capital spending to upgrade existing infrastructure, signaling systems and rolling stock. 

The programme will enable Prasa to procure new rolling stock and locomotives for the Metro service and the long-distance rail services, which will in turn significantly increase the country's passenger rail transport network, offering new routes and destinations throughout South Africa.

Speaking at a market engagement with train manufactures and financiers earlier today, Ndebele said rail transport was the back bone of the country's public transport.

"We cannot over-emphasise the fact that this will create opportunities for business, stimulate the rail engineering industry and related suppliers in the value chain, as well as contribute to our industrial policy objectives, especially the revitalisation of our own industry, employment creation as well as development of new skills," he said.

Ndebele said government's public transport plans are not a promise for the next millennium. "Government is already implementing key elements of rail investment strategy," he said.

Commenting on the public transport infrastructure during the 2010 FIFA World Cup, Ndebele said the country had done well in providing reliable public transport.

"The transport family played a significant role and made South Africa proud. South Africa used the 2010 FIFA World Cup to create a lasting legacy for its people," he said, adding that the history of the event will never be written without an acknowledgement of the enormous contribution of our modern upgraded road network, airports, municipal buses, Autopax's new bus fleet, Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system in cities like Johannesburg. 

The market engagement process will be used by Prasa, in partnership with the National Departments of Transport, Trade and Industry and National Treasury, not as an expression for proposals or tender process, but to conduct market feasibility studies for the future Rolling Stock Fleet Renewal Programme, with both rolling stock manufacturers and financiers of rolling stock.

Prasa CEO Lucky Montana said without a good public transport, the country would never be able to attract investment.

He said while Prasa had upgraded more than 50 train stations and bridges, it was imperative to secure new stock. "We cannot continue refurbishing them, we have to act fast," he said. - BuaNews