Upgrading rail infrastructure urgent

Posted On Monday, 14 March 2011 02:00 Published by eProp Commercial Property News
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Prasa will embark on a 'market engagement' process aimed at potential train manufacturers in South Africa, Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele.

Sbusiso NdebeleThe Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) will embark on a "market engagement" process aimed at potential train manufacturers in South Africa, Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele announced on Friday.

"As part of South Africa's public transport strategy (PTS), we are moving towards a high quality integrated mass rapid public transport network which includes rail, taxi and bus services," he said in a statement.

The PTS aimed to accelerate improvements in public transport by establishing integrated rapid public transport networks (IRPTNs), which would introduce priority rail corridors and bus rapid transit (BRT) systems.

Modernisation and upgrading the rail infrastructure was therefore an urgent matter that could not be delayed any longer.

"We are engaging in a comprehensive rail upgrade that looks at placing rail at the centre of our freight and commuter movement.

"It is rail, not private motor vehicles, that is the future of our public transport system," he said.

Over the past five years, government had invested over R40 billion in passenger rail infrastructure and services, including the Gautrain.

The problem was that most of the rail system had reached the end of its lifespan and continuing with a rehabilitation programme alone had become counter-productive.

Introducing new rail rolling stock and technology in the system was an absolute necessity and would protect the historical investment in the sector.

"There is a need for re-investment in both the existing network and new routes to respond to new post-apartheid spatial and economic dynamics.

"Through various processes, rail projects of strategic importance have been identified. We need focused intervention on some of our key passenger and freight corridors," he said.

"The market engagement is the next step in the progress made by government within the public transport sector, in particular, passenger rail."

The market engagement process would be used by Prasa in partnership with the national departments of transport, trade and industry and National Treasury, not as an expression for proposals or tender process, but to conduct market feasibility studies for the future rolling stock fleet renewal programme with both rolling stock manufacturers and financiers of rolling stock.

The engagement would also gauge the market's ability to supply adequate quantities of rolling stock to specifications suitable to local requirements while measuring the potential appeal to financiers and their ability to provide long-term finance to the rolling stock fleet renewal programme.

Prasa, as the project leader, would hold a one-day market engagement process on April 5 at Gallagher Estate in Midrand.

It was intended to gauge the market possibility for production capacity of at least 300 passenger coaches a year, for maintenance or significant/whole life support for manufactured coaches, company ability to demonstrate international production lines with a presence in at least three countries, and prior SA train building and maintenance provision experience or willingness to transfer technology to South Africa or a local production facility.

 

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