“Renaissance of the railways for South Africa” — this is the phrase that the Transport Ministry used to announce the news of South Africa’s railways taking a new route toward development by allowing for the private sector’s entry.
The white paper makes official March’s policy approval for a “decisive break with the past” as per the Department of Transport, in light of the railways’ role in segregation. It essentially promises to put our railway service on track with private sector investment, according to the department’s statement.
“The key thrusts of the White Paper on National Rail Policy are enabling investment in our railways, with specific attention to the exploitation of rail’s genetic technologies to achieve renaissance in the following market spaces: heavy haul, heavy intermodal, which includes double-stacked containers, contemporary urban and regional rapid transit, as well as higher-speed of 160 to 200km/h and high speed up to 300km/h,” said Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula.
”While rail is a well-established industry in the country, it has operated for more than a century without a cohesive National Rail Policy, that provides a seamlessly integrated and holistic strategic direction for the sector,” Mbalula emphasised.
The National Rail Policy is also set to focus on job creation and transport made easier for rural communities. The biggest appeal to the Public, however, is that the introduction of the private sector into public transport challenges capacity issues given the alternatives, ie; “on-rail competition.”
It also foreshadows other programmers and models to enhance efficiency, including one whereby cities and provinces alike will “deliver a seamlessly integrated public transport system, with commuter rail as its backbone,” Mbalula added.