The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) has restarted the Langa to Nyanga commuter rail service on Cape Town’s Central Line after three years of dormancy.
“The devastation that we experienced on the back of the Covid-19 pandemic in the form of unprecedented theft and vandalism of public assets, and the illegal occupation of the line and rail reserve, crippled the service and denied many people access to the most affordable mode of public transport,” says Transport Minister Sindisiwe Chikunga.
“In 2021, we set out to recover and restore services in ten key high-volume corridors,” she adds.
“By December 2022, we exceeded this number by restoring 13 corridors.
“To date, we have recovered a total of 16 corridors . . . [including the] Pretoria to Centurion line.”
The R1.2-billion project to recover the Central Line is being undertaken in phases, with Phase 1A being Cape Town to Langa (via Pinelands); Phase 1B Langa to Bellville (via Sarepta); Phase 1C Langa to Nyanga; and Phase 2 Nyanga to Chris Hani to Khayelitsha and Kapteinsklip.
This phased approach allows PRASA to rebuild and restore train services while the process for the relocation of the illegal occupants on the rail line and reserve are being finalised, says Chikunga.
Phases 1A and 1B were completed in July last year. Work included perway (rail tracks) and the replacement of 27 km of overhead track equipment.
Work on the Langa to Nyanga line included rerailing between Bonteheuwel and Heideveld, replacing sleepers that support tracks between Langa and Pinelands, replenishing ballasts on the Khayelitsha line and replacing 100 000 fasteners and clips.
About 7.5 km of overhead equipment has also been replaced.
“I am also pleased that the Bonteheuwel and Nyanga stations have been partially recovered for basic functionality to allow commuters [to] access the trains,” says Chikunga.
“The work to fully recover the stations is ongoing.”
Chikunga says the relocation of the illegal settlements is the last remaining obstacle to the full rehabilitation and restoration of service on the Central Line.
The relocation process will take place in two phases, with Phase 1 being to relocate about 1 254 structures located near Langa Station, within the railway reserve.
Phase 2 aims to relocate about 3 688 informal dwellers at Philippi Station and 253 illegal dwellers at Khayelitsha Station.
The Housing Development Agency has been designated as the implementing agent for the relocation process.