The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) says it is working on restoring some of its networks that had to be closed due to vandalism and theft. These include the rail lines between Mabopane and Pretoria and the central line in Cape Town.

Prasa Administrator Bongisizwe Mpondo says they hope to be back in service by April next year. The Prasa executive was engaging with passengers in Dube, Soweto, about their train service.

Mpondo says some of their plans include building four-meter high walls and deploying more security personnel to protect their infrastructure.

“You would have heard at the State of the Nation Address that the President mentioned two lines that we need to recover where there’s no service. So we are working diligently on all these programs to ensure that we bring the necessary infrastructure to look into safety and security and to ensure that the service is restored. It will take a bit of time. It will not happen immediately.”

Employing state of the art technology such as drones, CCTV cameras and armoured vehicles are some of the planned upgrades in the pipeline. Mpondo says they will work tirelessly to restore trust among commuters and to ensure that all their services run as scheduled to the benefit of all who depend on trains.

“On security, we are looking at technology, bringing in CCTV and all associated technology. So it’s an integrated security solution. So that’s a stream on its own. Lastly, it is recovery, ensuring that we have got the necessary trains that we need to run at the point that we need to run limited service.”

However, some commuters have little faith in Prasa.

“Some people have lost their jobs and I’m talking from experience. You find that we are on our way to work then the train gets stuck because we do not get paid the same,  some would have some money to catch a taxi and those of us without, we would have to walk. You get to work late then the boss would tell you, ‘that’s none of my business’,” says one of the commuters.

Another commuter says she once spent a night away from her children because of no trains.

“I’m so fed up with the train. I’m using it today because it’s closer to Naledi. But I normally use the bus. The train is not something I can recommend to anyone. If you want to die or get robbed make use of the train. I used to use it from Naledi to Kempton Park. Then this other day I ended up sleeping at Park Station because it arrived late.”

Mpondo is adamant that they will be able to restore commuter confidence.