Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) said on Friday that it had begun a three-phase trial run in Pretoria of its new trains as part of the New Rolling Stock Acquisition Programme.
The new trains will replace the Metrorail trains currently in use.
The development comes after the national rail agency provisionally accepted the first train from Gibela Transport Company, a joint venture between Alstom, Ubumbano Rail and New Africa Rail.
Gibela won a R51-billion contract to supply Prasa with 600 new passanger trains, with the first 20 trains imported from Brazil, and 580 to be built at a plant under construction in Dunnottar, on the East Rand.
Gibela also signed a 19-year maintenance and technical support programme with Prasa.
Prasa said the testing and commissioning process of the train had progressed well in the past six months, with no major technical issues recorded.
In a statement, Prasa spokseperson Nana Zenani the first train would travel between Pienaarspoort Station in Mamelodi and Rissik Station in Hatfield daily from this month until January 16, 2017.
She said this would be to test Prasa’s operational plan, which would determine operating times and hopefully lead to a clock-face timetable, operational safety and security readiness, and final service offering to the customers.
“The trial run will take place daily during off-peak between 9:30am and 3pm so that the normal peak operations of the current trains is not interrupted,” Zenani said.
“During this time, the new train will operate without passengers as part of pre-operation safety protocols set by the Rail Safety Regulator.”
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Zenani said phase two of the trial run would see the introduction of a shuttle service between the two stations from January 18 until February 28 next year.
She said phase three would launch Prasa’s new commercial service that would run only new train sets between Pienaarspoort Station and Pretoria Station from February 28.
“These works are part of Prasa’s investment into both new trains and the upgrading and modernisation of infrastructure which complement each other in the delivery of a world-class passenger service,” Zenani said.
“Prasa will continue to modernise the rail infrastructure, which works in tandem with the deployment of the new trains and may sometimes cause a halt in operations until the modernisation works are complete.”
Meanwhile, Prasa this week revealed that it was probing contracts worth R24 billion after R13.9 billion in irregular expenditure was identified by the auditor-general.
– African News Agency (ANA)