Prasa: A big job to turn this rolling laughing stock around
How Ramaphosa intends keeping his election promise to make commuter trains run on time is anyone’s guess
The scale of the promise by President Cyril Ramaphosa –riding a flawless new commuter train rolled out by the Passenger Rail Association of SA on Wednesday – can only be comprehended by those exposed to the current train fleet.
Ramaphosa, in high electioneering mode, promised that the government, presumably ANC-led, would make commuter trains run on time and that they’d be safe.
He was severely embarrassed in March when he caught a train to Pretoria and what was supposed to be a 45-minute journey took three hours.
A weekend trip to Durban by this reporter by train was marred by a five-hour wait at Germiston and Union stations, giving plenty of time to see the state of the facilities and the pitiful condition of the commuter trains on a cold, rainy day.The stations are a mess. The facilities are in a disgraceful condition for the thousands of people waiting on platforms for trains that are delayed by hours. None of the electronic noticeboards worked.The commuter trains barely have a window in a single carriage, doors don’t close and some hang precariously, threatening to fall off.A Zimbabwean Uber driver said he was terrified for his safety using commuter trains, while the sporadic and unreliable nature of the service made it an unviable transport option.
It is easy to see why commuter frustrations boil over into destructive rage, while Prasa is struggling with rampant vandalism to trains and rail infrastructure.
How on earth Ramaphosa intends keeping this election promise is anyone’s guess. The government and Prasa have been completely unable to arrest the decline of the commuter train service into a dirty, dangerous and unreliable reality for hundreds of thousands of people.