South Africa’s current rail network is the eleventh-largest in the world at 22,387 route-km or 30,400 track-km. It comprises 12,801km of national network, 7,278km of branch lines and 2,228km of narrow gauge urban network, as well as 80km of standard gauge regional rapid transit network. The Department of Transport regulates all transportation in the country and shares its responsibility for both passenger and freight infrastructure and operations with the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA), the Rail Safety Regulator (RSR) and Transnet SOC Ltd. The Department of Transport has oversight over PRASA and RSR, while Transnet, a state-owned company, falls under the Department of Public Enterprises. The Gauteng Provincial Government, through the Gautrain Management Agency (GMA), is the owner of the R27bn Gautrain system.
Revitalising the Rail Sector
The proposed National Rail Policy plans to stimulate a renaissance in the South African railway sector by introducing remedial infrastructural investment plus institutional interventions to position rail as the backbone of the national transport sector. Total capital expenditure by Transnet in the 2016 financial year reached R34bn with R11.1bn spent on the expansion of infrastructure and equipment and R18.5bn spent on maintaining capacity in the rail and ports divisions. For the 2017/2018 fiscal year the Minister of Transport allocated R19bn. The major revitalisation investment will entail the conversion of an outdated Cape gauge network to a standard gauge high-performance national rail network and the provision of sufficient capacity for heavy haul and general freight services, as well as for regional rapid transit and long-distance passenger services.
As well as covering passenger and freight transportation by rail, the detailed report on the South African rail sector includes information on the manufacture of concrete railway sleepers and turnouts. The report profiles the two state-owned entities, PRASA and Transnet, as well as four other role players in the railway transport sector.