The Gauteng Transport Authority says it would like to see rail becoming the backbone of public transport in the province.

The authority’s CEO Jack van der Merwe, however, says vandalism to rail infrastructure could cost the province as much as R173 million.

He was making a virtual presentation before the Gauteng Legislature’s Committee on Roads and Transport.

“We have to have rail as the backbone of public transport and the whole issue of metrorail where the whole infrastructure has been decimated through vandalism and through theft is a major problem. The advantage of rail operating on its own dedicated rail and a large number of commuters that it can transport made it the obvious choice as the backbone for the integrated public transport system.”

Meanwhile, on Friday Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula officially launched the Metrorail Management and Traffic Control Centre in Bellville outside Cape Town.

The centre will see the automation of all passenger rail operations, improving on-time performance of passenger trains and most importantly safety.

Mbalula says this is part of the programme to address the struggling railway system, crippled by vandalism and cable theft.- Additional reporting by Chris Mabuya

In the video below, Minister Fikile Mbalula is at the launch: