The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) confirmed that limited services on four train lines across the country will resume from Wednesday in an announcement made on Tuesday 30 June.

All passenger rail services have been offline since the declaration of a natural state of disaster and the commencement of the lockdown in March.

Prasa committed to ensuring all COVID-19 hygiene protocols, which include social distancing on platforms and inside trains, are adhered to by passengers.

Which Prasa lines will reopen on 1 July

In the Western Cape only the Southern Line from Retreat to Cape Town Station will run, with trains set to be loaded up to only 15 per cent of their capacity.

In Gauteng the service will run from Pienaarspoort to Pretoria while in the Eastern Cape two lines will run with Port Elizabeth to Uitenhage as well as East London to Berlin to resume.

“We are planning to resume services from tomorrow, Wednesday the 1st of July,” the transport minister said this week. 

“We plan to do so on four lines, in Gauteng, the line that we just travelled on, being from Pienaarspoort down here to the Pretoria station. We’re looking at the Western Cape, the southern line from Cape Town to Retreat. Two lines in the Eastern Cape, Port Elizabeth to Uitenhage as well as East London to Berlin.”

“Metrorail is permitted to start limited operations on Wednesday 1 July 2020 under strict travel conditions,” Metro Rail Western Cape announced on Tuesday.

Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula has inspected various Prasa sites ahead of the gradual resumption of its operations this week, completing inspections in Gauteng a day before the service is set to go back online.

Mbalula called on staff to ensure that passengers adhered to the protocols on the lines opening from 1 July.

“Frontline staff, you’re going to be doing an important job tomorrow. Don’t compromise on the rules, don’t,” Mbalula said while inspecting Prasa facilities in Pienaarspoort.

“Once that train is over capacity and people are doing as they wish, that train cannot move.”

Commuters must comply

Mbalula said that under no circumstances will commuters be allowed to board a train without a face mask in place.

The minister said that the resumption of services placed a great burden upon those who use the service to ensure they take responsibility and behave appropriately while using transport services.

Prasa will continue a phased reopening of services with some routes much closer to returning than others. Regrettably, the lockdown has seen widespread vandalism and even the looting of rail infrastructure.

Under normal circumstances, Metrorail is responsible for transporting up to two million passengers daily in Gauteng, the Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape. The PRASA owns 317 stations of the 468 stations Metrorail operates, with the remainder belonging to Transnet Freight Rail.

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Presh JM Reporter

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