Speaking at the launch of the trains at Pretoria Station, President Zuma noted that the trains marked the beginning of a 20-year modernisation programme by Prasa, to improve passenger travel experience in South Africa after 40 years of under investment, which has resulted in old and unreliable trains and rail infrastructure.
“We are investing R51 billion on buying new trains and R4 billion on new hybrid locomotives. All in all, the investment programme towards the modernisation of passenger rail infrastructure and services totals R173 billion,” said Zuma.
The passenger train, which is affectionately known as The People’s Train will offer faster travel times, reliable service, improved security with CCTV cameras and a fully air-conditioned train.
Prasa entered into a contract with the Gibela Rail Transport Consortium in 2013, valued at R59 billion, to deliver 600 new train-sets, with 580 to be produced locally and 20 manufactured in Brazil. As part of this programme, the passenger rail infrastructure and systems will also be upgraded over a period ahead.
“Prasa cannot launch new trains on old infrastructure,” said the president. It is a worthwhile investment on infrastructure that will improve the lives of our people and which will also last for many decades.”
According to the Department of Transport, this development indicates that South Africa is not sinking, but it is rising to meet up with other country standards.
The president was accompanied by transport minister Joe Maswanganyi, Gauteng transport MEC Ismail Vadi, community safety MEC Sizakele Nkosi-Malobane, and Prasa representatives.
The president urged commuters to take care of the new trains and handle all infrastructures with care.