R1.1bn passenger rail line gets green light

Cindy Preller

railineCOMMUTERS in Motherwell could soon be travelling into the city centre by train. The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) this week published a request for tenders for the design and construction of the Motherwell Passenger Rail Corridor.

The R1.1-billion project will involve a new 7.8km railway line, with three new stations, connecting Motherwell with the existing passenger train line at Swartkops station, which runs between the city’s main station towards Johannesburg.

The second phase will involve a loop of about 11km that will link Motherwell with Coega. Long-term plans are to link the last station up with the Coega Industrial Development Zone.

Prasa spokesman Moffet Mofokeng said funding would be sourced through government and during construction more than 1000 jobs would be created. Once operational, about 150 full-time jobs would be created.

“The line is designed to cater for up to 60000 passengers at peak period between 5am and 8am as well as 4pm and 7pm, when it operates at full capacity. It is expected to transport from 20000 to 30000 passengers per hour in the first years of operation.”

Mofokeng could not give an estimated cost of what a commuter would pay travelling from Motherwell to the city centre, but it would be a significant saving compared to services currently operated by buses and taxis.

Mofokeng said construction would start as soon as the procurement process was completed and that was expected during the 2013-14 financial year.

The first passengers to board the train from Motherwell would do so within three years of the start of construction.

Once the full loop to the Coega IDZ has been completed, 60000 passengers will be accommodated on the corridor, which will be operated by Prasa.

Basic planning had been completed in 2000, and it was identified as a priority project in 2006.

This week’s request for proposals is for turnkey consortiums – companies who will take full responsibility for the construction and commissioning of the project.

Requirements include providing “detailed engineering design, and construction for the infrastructure development” of the corridor.

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