With the commuter rail ‘on the brink of total collapse’, according to councillor Brett Herron, the City of Cape Town has announced its intention to take over management of the commuter rail service in the city.

“Commuter rail – the backbone of public transport in Cape Town – is on the brink of total collapse,” said mayoral committee member for transport and urban development, councillor Brett Herron.

Herron said that the City intends to ask the National Department of Transport (DoT) to expedite the assignment of the urban train function to the city, pending approval by the City Council. Some 54% of commuter journeys are made by passenger rail in the city.

Herron said that passenger rail numbers in Cape Town had fallen by 30% from 2o15/16 to 2016/17 in a statement. There were on average 2.7 million fewer rail journeys in Cape Town per month in 2016/17 when compared with 2015/16, according to the latest data received from Metrorail.

“Passenger rail is the backbone of public transport in Cape Town. More than half of all commuter journeys – that is 54% – are made by train. However, Metrorail’s data confirms that thousands of commuters have been displaced to road-based transport – be it private vehicles, minibus-taxis or buses – over the past two years,” said the statement.

“We are facing a real risk that passenger rail in Cape Town could effectively collapse before the DoT’s National Rail Policy (Draft White Paper) of June 2017 is finalised to devolve the management of passenger rail to municipalities. This could take another two to three years.

“The City cannot sit back and wait for the National Government to intervene. Time is of the essence.”


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