Monday, January 31, 2011

Master Rail Plan Likely to go ahead

If we cant run the current Metro Trains, what makes us think we can run the High Speed Trains? Who is going to use them? It worries me to know that there are people who are treating this High Speed Train project as if they are children. Like a kid, when daddy or mommy brings a new toy home, they quickly forget about the old toy and only play with the new one.

The cabinet is expected to give the nod later this year to the multibillion-rand high-speed rail network proposed as part of the National Transport Master Plan (Natmap), which is intended to cut congestion on the country’s roads and the cost of public transport.
A transport industry fundi said yesterday that the Natmap, which has the potential to drive up construction activity and job creation like the World Cup did, suggested a sequenced delivery process for the rail sector over a 20-year period.

The network will consist of high-speed rail projects from Johannesburg to Durban (566km); Johannesburg to Cape Town (1 264km); Johannesburg to Musina (520km) and a rail corridor between Tshwane and Moloto in Mpumalanga.
Mawethu Vilana, the deputy director-general for transport logistics and corridor development in the Department of Transport, said a feasibility study on the network was yet to be done. This would determine the project costs, funding options available and whether it was something that South Africa could afford.
Last year, reports estimated that the high-speed rail link between Durban and Johannesburg could cost $30 billion (R213bn). These reports also said the government was in talks with China Railway Group about building it.
Using the $30bn as a benchmark, if all the other links were built, the entire project could cost close to R1 trillion, judging by the distances alone.
Tony Twine, a senior economist at Econometrix, said costs would vary on each route depending on the engineering required. Twine said to drive around between cities as was the case now was not ideal for a modern traveller or commuter.
He said: “It makes a lot of these places reachable more conveniently and potentially cheaper than air travel. London to Germany’s Polish border is 1 200km, people need to see that these are big spaces and the faster you can get across them, the better.”
John Thompson, the chief executive of the Railroad Association of SA, said this was a good plan for the country.
“Pretoria to Moloto makes a lot of sense because it takes a lot of the buses off the roads and reduces accidents,” said Thompson. “But are you going to be able to fill the trains between Johannesburg and Cape Town?”
Thompson added that there were a lot of questions that remained unanswered, which he hoped the business plan for the network would clarify.
Romano Del Mistro of UCT’s department of civil engineering said: “There are also broader benefits of introducing high-speed rail, such as increasing economic opportunities through better access between major centres and the development of a rail stock component manufacturing industry.”
Of the four projects, the Durban to Johannesburg link would probably be the most viable in that it could compete with air travel. “International high-speed rail experience is that high-speed rail can compete economically on routes shorter than 1 000km.”
Freddie Mitchell, an economist from Efficient Group, said viability studies would have to be considered carefully because “looking at the tax base, it is difficult to see where the money will come from”.
Mitchell also questioned if there would be enough passengers to repay the investment.
Vilana said as part of the Natmap, the Passenger Rail Agency of SA had also identified the need for the recapitalisation of its fleet over the next 18 years.
Vilana said: “These projects and Transnet rail upgrades will be a major boost to socioeconomic development of our country, as well as a catalyst for job creation and the development of the railway industry in the country.
“The challenge we are facing is that most of our commuter rail system has reached the end of its lifespan.
“We believe that an ambitious programme of introducing new rail rolling stock and technology in our system is an absolute necessity and will protect our historical investment in the sector. There are major socioeconomic spin-offs from a comprehensive rail investment programme.
“A sustained programme over 20 years will create certainty and enable input manufacturers to retool factories and therefore create sustained local industrial activities.” - Slindile Khanyile

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Thiefs killing the Jo'burg Economy?

Its a sad state we are in. Now thieves have turned to stealing our traffic lights in order to make extra monies. Traffic lights are said to be out of order in most intersections around Johannesburg after being vandalised and with the weather being not so nice with lots of rains, this will come as a blow to motorists who have to seat on their cars waiting at intersections.

Now reports says that there is a possibility that there is an inside job. Could it be the case? And if there is, could it be that the suppliers are also involved? I hope the culprits are found.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

New parking system for Johannesburg

Soon you will not park for free in the streets of Central Jo'burg, Sandton, Rosebank and in Midrand. For a very long time, motorists in Jo'burg have been parking for free and it is said that some would leave their vehicles for hours without moving them causing other car owners not to find parking at all. It is true, getting a parking in Joburg will take you time during peak hours.

Not that the new system will mean you can find parking at any time. Well, the details of how it works are sketchy and there are no mention of if whether the system is intelligent to let the parking marshalls where the parking space is available. But the question that one need to know is where is the R7.50 that motorists will be charged be going to. Will it be used to cities or will it all go to the bonuses of the authorities?

I also hope that all stakeholders in the city centers were proparly involved in the decision making...and the R7.50 is fair. Talk of the stakeholders, already the existing informal parking assistance are said to be threatened. They should not be left to find other means of survival...they should be incorporated to the new system.

A new parking system allowing motorists to park on the side of the road will be rolled out to other areas of Johannesburg in the new year, the Johannesburg metro police said.

Chief Superintendent Wayne Minnaar said the system was piloted in Braamfontein at the beginning of December.
"There are wardens allowing motorists to park on the road side for a R7.50 fee per hour," he said.
He explained that motorists would be issued with a parking slip.

Happy New Year

To all my readers, happy new year.