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Ramaphosa opens train factory – stations need major renovations to use trains

ENCA reports that President Cyril Ramaphosa opened a R1 billion train factory in Nigel, Gauteng yesterday.

The factory is intended to produce 580 new commuter trains, with the first two set to be delivered in December, another nine by March next year, and fifty-six in the next two years.

According to EWN the factory started construction in 2016, and its staff is 49% female, and 90% black.

We kind of need the trains – the Western Cape only has about half the number needed to cater to its customers.

Now according to The Citizen, the total cost for this project is going to be about R51 billion, because we’re not just paying for the factory, we’re paying for the trains.

There are a few practical concerns. The big one is that the train doors aren’t going to be at the right height for our train stations. We’re going to have to do something about the platforms, which leaves one wondering what we’re going to do about the trains we’ve already got.

Another issue, is that there is a safety problem with safety permits – the Rail Safety Regulator is currently fighting with the Passenger Rail Authority of South Africa over our collapsed signalling system.

My Take

Surely it should be perfectly possible to just a build a train the right size? I mean, this is going to be our own manufacturer – why can’t we make the trains to fit?

This whole project is expected to hire about 1500 people, which is good news right now. We need this kind of spending to build up demand in our economy, and it is certainly better to have the factory here than in Brazil or China.

But still, why are we stuck with a government that seems incapable of buying the right sized train? It shouldn’t be this difficult.

  • Picture courtesy of GCIS via Flickr.
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