Cape Town: When a new batch of diesel locomotives was docked off the ship at the Cape Town harbour on Wednesday, Transport Minister Dipuo Peters walked towards the Afro4002 loco and kissed it.
The Minister then told journalists that the delivery of the locos was an exciting moment for government and the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) because they would go a long way in reducing travel time, providing comfort, reliability and improving efficiency.
The docking of the four locos follows the unveiling of the first one – Afro4001 diesel locomotive – at the Cape Town Station last month.
“We are happy that when we said 2015, the first trains will be landing in South Africa, in January 2015 there is the delivery of the train. We are very excited.
“At different times this year, trains will be delivered.
“One of the key things the government is focussing on, between 2014 to 2019, is to improve on public transport, in particular our drive to move people from road to rail. This is part of the initiative because in that way, we will be able to deal with the carnage on the roads. We will be able to reduce the number of people who actually die,” Minister Peters said.
The Minister was accompanied by the Chairperson of the PRASA board Dr Popo Molefe and the agency’s Group CEO Lucky Montana.
The roll-out of the locos are expected to contribute to the rail operator’s plan of modernising the country’s rail infrastructure, including rolling stock, signal upgrade, infrastructure rehabilitation, station modernisation, new locomotives for long distance passenger services
All in all, 70 high-tech locomotives are expected to be delivered over the next few months, and they will be made up of 50 Euro Dual electro-diesel and 20 Euro 4000 diesel locomotives.
As they arrive, PRASA will take them to the track to test them until March, and thereafter, the locos will start operating from April this year.
The Minister said the Afro4001 diesel locomotive has already been tested and on one test-run, it pulled up to 50 coaches over a notable distance.
“We are also saying these type of locomotives bring in modernisation, they also bring in faster delivery.
“We are saying we want to also improve the ability of people to move faster on the rail because people are saying I don’t want to spend hours on end on the train,” she said.
The locomotives are highly powered and are designed for multipurpose use and can pull freight and passenger coaches.
The trains will run along six long distance corridors, including the Johannesburg to Cape Town route.
As soon as PRASA receives new stock during the first half of the year, these will be increased to 10 corridors.
The Minister said government was investing R172.3 billion in the next 10 years to fast track the modernisation of public passenger transport to rail, from which R3.5 billion has gone into the manufacturing of 70 locomotives.
About R51 billion will go towards the manufacturing of 600 new trains for Metrorail, the Minister said.
Molefe, meanwhile, said the 70 locomotives were being manufactured in Spain, and added that PRASA would receive the first 20 of these within the next six months.
“Over time we have had to deal with high levels of frustrations from our people, who use our trains, because of slow journey times and overcrowding resulting in the passengers losing faith in rail as a mode of choice.
“What we see today will immediately see the reduction of travel time on our long-distance passenger rail services as part of our commitment in providing high quality passenger services,” he said.
SOURCE: SOUTH AFRICAN OFFICIAL NEWS