Prasa rail services

Image via Twitter: PRASA_Group

Prasa rail services will not operate in June – lockdown level 3

Prasa is not ready to resume the Metrorail commuter service according to Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula.

Prasa rail services

Image via Twitter: PRASA_Group

Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula said on Saturday 30 May that the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) was not ready to operate from 1 June.

Mbalula announced the opening of the three major airports for business travel, but said his department were not happy with Prasa’s readiness to operate.

Rail services will not operate in June

The minister acknowledged that thousands of South Africans relied on rail services to get to work but insisted that we cannot afford to have Prasa operating as a vehicle to spread the coronavirus.

Mbalula said that his department had set a revised date of 1 July for the resumption of all Prasa services.

The Gautrain resumed services in May, and according to Mbalula the airport service will resume from 1 June.

Mbalula said that Metrorail services would be continuously assessed for readiness with a view to opening limited lines on 1 July 2020.

“Through our ongoing engagements and evaluation of Prasa’s state of readiness to resume operations, we have concluded that Prasa is not ready to resume with the Metrorail commuter service,” Mbalula told a media briefing on Saturday.  

“We continue to work closely with Prasa in assessing each line.

“We have therefore revised our timelines in respect of the resumption of the Metrorail commuter service.  

A new timeline

Mbalula continued: “The revised target date is now 1 July 2020, on the following lines:

  • Pretoria to Pienaarspoort;
  • Cape Town to Simonstown;
  • East London to Berlin; and
  • Port Elizabeth to Uitenhage

Mbalula said that buses and taxis would be allowed to operate but restrictions on capacity will remains in place.

“The time restrictions on all road-based public transport modes are lifted. Public transport will now be allowed to operate throughout the day. However, capacity restrictions remain,” Mbalula said.

Prasa woes

The rail lines are simply not ready to operate according to the department, who said that even if there was no issue with the virus, the lines could not operate at this stage. In answering questions from journalists, the deputy minister conceded that Prasa was a broken entity, and insisted that keeping them from operating was a matter of safety. 

Prasa announced the appointment of five new executives this week as part of the intervention to stabilise the entity and bring onboard skilled and capable managers. Mbalula welcomed the appointments earlier this week. The minister said he hoped the new board would deliver efficiency in Prasa rail operations while championing the modernisation programme.