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This report covers passenger and freight transportation by rail, sectors characterised by decades of ageing infrastructure, poor maintenance and lack of investment. During the past few years low economic growth, the drop in commodity prices, low manufacturing and mining output and electricity constraints, have all had a negative effect on Transnet Freight Rail’s freight rail volumes. PRASA’s Mainline Passenger Services have also seen dwindling numbers with statistics for 2013/14 showing 1 million passengers were carried on long distance services compared to 3 million in 2009/10.
PRASA and Transnet are implementing huge capital investment programmes to revitalise the rail industry and to create rail capacity ahead of expected demand, to enable a shift of traffic from road to rail. The passenger division will implement a R123.5bn Rolling Stock Renewal Programme supported by programmes to increase capacity and upgrade stations and national signalling systems while Transnet’s Market Demand Strategy will invest R336.6bn on capital projects over a seven-year period.
Strategic investment-led policy interventions aligned to the Government’s National Development Plan are being introduced to support the revitalisation of the railway industry. Government has already published the Green Paper on National Rail Policy for comment and a Single Transport Economic Regulator (STER) to address the regulatory shortcomings across the transport sector has been proposed. Meanwhile the Department of Transport plans to develop and implement the Private Sector Participation (PSP) Framework for ports and freight rail.
The report on the South African Railway sector focuses on the current state of the sector, developments within the sector and factors influencing the success of the industry. The report profiles seven companies including the two state-owned enterprises as well as independent entities, Bombela Operating Company (Pty) Ltd, the operator and maintainer of the Gautrain and Grindrod Rail Operations (Pty) Ltd, which has a fleet of 65 locomotives.