The direct cost to restore passenger rail services in KwaZulu- Natal following the recent floods stands at an estimated R2.6-billion to R2.9-billion, says the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA).
In addition, the loss of fare revenue, owing to the suspension of train services, is estimated at roughly R50-million.
PRASA, which operates the Metrorail service, says the floods led to the suspension of train services, with Metrorail KwaZulu-Natal suffering “substantial damage to its facilities, rail infrastructure and rolling stock”.
The agency says it put together a disaster management response team to assess the damage to the rail network, and to develop a recovery plan.
This team’s preliminary investigation identified nine sections that have been severely affected by the floods.
PRASA says restoring services in these sections will require the rehabilitation and replacement of perway (tracks); repair of electrical infrastructure and substations damaged by the floods; replacement of signalling equipment; replacement of damaged fibre cables and UPS equipment; and repair of the drainage system and Illovo bridge.
The agency warns, however, that some areas remain inaccessible, with geotechnical and detailed design assessment, as well as further costing estimates, to be conducted once water levels have subsided.
As part of the team’s recovery efforts, the work has been divided into two phases.
Phase 1 concerns work that needs to be performed to ensure trains are able to travel
safely through the flood-affected sections, while Phase 2 will focus on the overall rehabilitation of the infrastructure.
“Ultimately, the safety of commuters is our top priority, and services can only be resumed once all repairs have been completed and trains can run again,” says PRASA.