The study will commence on 1 July 2022 and the municipality says it will take place “with stipulated deadlines, deliverables, regular feedback and reporting to the City on the progress of the work.”
Mayor Geordin-Hill Lewis says: “The study will focus on an approach that is feasible, incremental, and structured. Taking over passenger rail from the National Government is a huge undertaking.”
“We must fully understand what this entails, especially when it comes to the costs as passenger rail in Cape Town has imploded to a level where it is barely functioning. The whole system – from the planning to the operations and management – will need to be overhauled so that it can be the backbone of public transport and the study will assist us in how to approach this takeover,” he adds.
I am very pleased to announce today that the City of Cape Town is now ready to proceed with a detailed feasibility study for the devolution of the metropolitan rail function to this metro. ⁰https://t.co/twhDdH92aj pic.twitter.com/L8NS3BLlab
— Geordin Hill-Lewis (@geordinhl) April 28, 2022
The City of Cape Town says the state of the rail network in the city is dire: ” The Passenger Rail Agency of SA (PRASA) has neglected passenger rail for decades. A lack of investment, maintenance, vandalism and crime have led to a loss of assets, illegal occupation of rail reserves, and a collapse of most services. In 1995 the network of 270km was served by 95 train sets, by December 2019 there were 44 sets in operation. The central line, the most popular and needed line serving the metro-south east, is not operating.”
More detail about the study has also been given. The feasibility study aims to:
- Develop a feasible, incremental and structured approach for an improved passenger rail service in terms of planning, operations, and management.
- Identify and evaluate financing mechanisms for the provision of operations and capital investment.
- Determine the financial implications for the restoration and sustainability of passenger rail services.
- The team undertaking the study consists of experts in rail operations and rail engineering; project management; transport planning; strategists in the rail business, facilities and asset management; a transport economist; a legal specialist, and a rail safety and security specialist.
Mayoral Committee Member for Urban Mobility, Councillor Rob Quintas says: “A critical component is the financial viability of the City taking over passenger rail, and our ability to afford and maintain the system. Budget allocation and subsidisation will require detailed and ongoing engagement with the National Department of Transport and the Treasury.”
Any suggestions that the Minister of Finance has given a green light for commuter rail takeover by the City of Cape Town is inaccurate. Only the Minister of Transport can assign a public transport function to another sphere of government. pic.twitter.com/HTHZ8EaKwP
— FIKILE MBALULA | MR FIX (@MbalulaFikile) April 28, 2022
In a statement Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula said he will have the final say as to who operates the train service in Cape Town if not PRASA. “The White Paper on National Rail Policy, recently approved by Cabinet acknowledges the importance of devolving public transport functions to the lowest level of government. To this end, the Policy requires the development and approval of a Devolution Strategy for Commuter Rail to guide the assignment of the commuter rail function at municipal level,” said Mbalula.
He added: “The National Land Transport Act of 2009 (NLTA) provides for service level planning by municipalities for passenger rail service on a corridor basis. The law imposes a number of obligations on a municipality in integrating passenger rail planning in its integrated public transport networks.”