South Africa Mulls Open Access on Railway Infrastructure

South Africa is preparing to open access to the railway infrastructure for private operators, which should become an important factor in the recovery of the country’s economy after the pandemic.

The plan for restructuring and restoring the country’s economy, presented by South African President Cyril Ramaphos in 2020, outlines a number of structural reforms, including in rail transport.

The government intends to support private sector participation in strengthening the role of this mode of transport, including providing new operators with access to backbone infrastructure.

These plans emerged in difficult times for the country’s railways, where, even before the pandemic, there was a tendency for the transportation of both goods and passengers to fall.

Thus, from March 2019 to March 2020, the volume of freight traffic decreased from 226 million to 212 million tons.In the financial year 2020/2021, the decrease will become more noticeable due to the influence of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

In passenger transportation, the drop in volumes is even more significant – from 645 million people. in 2008/2009 up to 208 million in 2018/2019 and up to 140 million people in FY2020 (due to large-scale cable thefts and other acts of vandalism during the pandemic that caused the cancellation of passenger trains).

According to the Africa Rail Industry Association (ARIA), opening the market to private companies will increase the efficiency of the railway network by increasing the number of operators, attract additional revenues to finance maintenance and infrastructure modernization programs, reduce the external costs of logistics companies and increase the competitiveness of railways as an environmentally friendly a more attractive form of transport (photo: Transnet

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