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Wednesday Oct 11, 2017

Cape Town wants to run its own trains

The City of Cape Town wants to take over management of passenger rail in the city, after assessing the state of disrepair of the city's Metrorail infrastructure.

Yesterday the mayoral committee member for transport, Brett Herron, said it would take years to repair the damage done to passenger rail over the past three decades.

He said the context of this declaration was in line with the national department's National Rail Policy (draft White Paper) of June 2017, for the full implementation of the modernisation programme for the passenger rail system.

He said the commuter rail was the backbone of public transport in Cape Town and was on the brink of total collapse.

"The White Paper makes provision for the devolution (transfer) of the management of passenger rail to local government. In our view, waiting for the full implementation of the modernisation programme of the department would take too long and be too late. The second phase in Cape Town is only expected in 2025, and only by 2030 could we engage on assignments," said Herron.

He said passenger rail numbers had fallen by 30% from 2015/16 to 2016/17 and, according to the latest data from Metrorail, there were on average 2.7 million fewer rail journeys per month in 2016/17 compared with 2015/16.

"At the end of this month, at our council meeting, we are taking a report to support our request to the national minister that the rail function should be devolved to Cape Town in a phased and incremental way. The consequences of a complete breakdown would be catastrophic for the city, for residents and commuters who are already subjected to constant peak-hour gridlock on the congested road network," said Herron.

He said a detailed exploration and investigation of the feasibility of alternative rail solutions such as light rail, sky-rail, monorail, and urban cable car would commence.

Should the council give the go-ahead, he said, it would present a business plan to the national department.

But the takeover must happen gradually, he said, and the council would engage fully with the National Department of Transport and National Treasury about the allocation of subsidies.

Cape Times

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