This report focuses on freight and passenger rail transport and the manufacture of railway locomotives and rolling stock. It includes comprehensive information on Transnet, Prasa and Gautrain, including financial performance, infrastructure development and governance and supply chain issues. There are profiles of 31 companies including Transnet and Prasa, suppliers such as Siemens, ABB and Actom and logistics companies such as SAFreight Logistics.
Railway Transport and Manufacture of Locomotives and Rolling Stock in South Africa
The rail industry was plagued by aging infrastructure and governance issues prior to the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. The industry has been further affected by a decrease in rail freight and passenger volumes and revenues due to lockdown restrictions. The poor economy has led to lower production, with less freight to transport, resulting in lower investment in expansion, and reducing the demand for additional rolling stock for freight. The state-owned Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) and Transnet, which dominate the sector, are suffering the effects of the legacy of poor governance and procurement irregularities with ongoing investigations by the Special Investigation Unit and appearances at the commission of inquiry into state capture. Government’s proposed open access to the rail network for private sector investment should enhance competitiveness and promote efficiency in the sector.
Prasa and Transnet
In December 2019, the minister of Transport dismissed Prasa’s interim board and acting CEO and put the company into administration. A permanent board was appointed in October 2020. Prasa’s operational issues include fleets out of service and a train shortage, the deteriorating condition of rolling stock and infrastructure, a decline in the number of trains scheduled, train delays and cancellations. Transnet’s 2020 performance was affected by deteriorating economic conditions reducing the volumes requiring transport by rail, increased security incidents, adverse weather patterns and poor rail network conditions in some key corridors. Its 2021 interim results reflect significant declines in revenue and volumes as a result of the lockdown.