President Cyril Ramaphosa joined the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) on Cape Town train station on Tuesday for the unveiling of two improved, modernized trains.
It is among 7000 sets PRASA’s Rolling Stock Fleet Renewal Programme hopes to locally manufacture over a period of 20 years, which is almost 30 per month.
The trains new features include air conditioning, CCTV cameras, an emergency button and automatic shutdown if the train exceeds a tracks speed limit.
United National Transport Union spokesperson Sonja Carstens said the news was exciting and they were glad to hear the new stock would be deployed in the Western Cape however there are some concerns as the trains are only operational in Pretoria as a pilot project.
Carstens said the Railway Safety Regulator (RSR) was not allowing the new trains to run anywhere else in the country because of safety aspects.
“For the trains to operate properly they need to secure the railway lines, because the new trains pick up speed faster than the normal yellow trains,” Carstens said.
“We do not believe PRASA is ready to roll out the new trains as the RSR confirmed a week ago that PRASA is still operating under a court order,” she said.
Carstens said the implementation of the trains was a step in the right direction, Cape Townians won’t see any relief anytime soon.
“The trains will be operating but commuters will not be able to utilise it, the trains will only operate to see whether everything is running smoothly. We see this as a political stunt considering the Elections coming up with government and PRASA selling half-truths to commuters,” she stated.
“At this stage it is important for government to recognise that there is a problem within the rail sector, and we are asking government to prioritise the issue as national importance, however we don’t believe this would be viable in the Western Cape,” she added.