With the reintroduction of the long-distance passenger train service, the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) has noted some challenges that may affect the service and has outlined its commitment to address them.
“The country is currently facing a shortage of locomotives, and some of those available are unreliable. This may result in delays and, in some cases, even cancellations. Contingency plans are in place for trips on all four corridors where the MLPS [Mainline Passenger Services ] service operates,” PRASA said on Thursday.
The agency said the condition and quality of the infrastructure have been a concern and may impact the travel experience.
“Despite these challenges, PRASA remains steadfast in its commitment to reviving the long-distance service. PRASA plans to ensure access to locomotives and improve the infrastructure quality and availability in conjunction with our sister agency, Transnet.
“PRASA believes acknowledging and addressing challenges openly is essential to rebuilding and maintaining trust in our service. We know that long-distance travel via rail is the most affordable. During this phase of reintroducing the MLPS service, PRASA will provide regular updates on our progress and actively seek feedback from our passengers and other stakeholders,” the agency said.
Amid these challenges, passenger safety remains its top priority.
“PRASA has implemented enhanced safety and security protocols to improve passenger safety on our trains. Our MLPS trains will have visible security on board the trains and at platforms to ensure all passengers feel safe.
“Passenger feedback will be critical as we accelerate the roll-out of the MLPS service and shape its future. We call on our passengers to share their experiences, concerns, and suggestions.
“PRASA is committed to delivering a service that meets the expectations of its stakeholders, especially passengers. The resumption of the MLPS service is a critical step in PRASA’s recovery of all aspects of passenger rail. The agency is determined to deliver a reliable, safe, comfortable long-distance train experience,” it said.
Earlier this month, the agency announced that the long-distance MLPS under its rail division had resumed the Johannesburg to Durban and Cape Town services on the Shosholoza Meyl.
The services were both suspended in 2021 due to operational and network infrastructure challenges.
As an entity of the Department of Transport (DoT), PRASA is the sole state-owned entity responsible for providing long-distance and urban passenger rail services and intercity bus services at the behest of the DoT. –SAnews.gov.za