Sunday Tribune

Our new trains come with a hefty price tag


THE People’s Train is here and I am as excited as a little boy.

At last we have world-class trains. The only thing that spoilt my excitement was the president having the honour of unveiling the People’s Train in Pretoria.

When I see trains in First World countries, I feel despondent that we don’t have such sleek, modern trains on our tracks.

The Durban-pietermari­tzburg business class express has come to a halt. As for the local ones, which train lover would want to travel on them? They are so drab, untidy and unsafe.

But the new ones in bright blue, grey and white are a welcome sight after the dirty yellow in service for 40 years. They come with a hefty price tag – R55billion for the 600 coaches and locomotive­s.

Troubled state-owned Prasa messed up when it bought locomotive­s from Spain with the wrong gauge and now intends to spend R173bn over 20 years modernisin­g and upgrading its ageing rail infrastruc­ture to bring it up to First World standards.

In his unveiling address, President Jacob Zuma appealed to the commuters not to burn the new People’s Train. The new trains will have CCTV cameras and will be air-conditione­d.

We are a violent nation. Often service delivery protests turn ugly as angry mobs go on the rampage, destroying public property.

When trains are late because of some signal fault caused by cable theft, commuters burn them.

Shouldn’t the masses vent their anger on their public representa­tives who aren’t doing their jobs rather than destroy public property? T MARKANDAN


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