Suspension of Malmesbury train service is a major setback

18 September 2022
Department of Transport and Public Works

Media Release by Daylin Mitchell Western Cape Minister of Mobility

Metrorail’s withdrawal of the Malmesbury train service tomorrow, Monday 19 September, is undermining the ability of commuters to travel to economic opportunities. In fact, it is a major setback.

Just a few days ago we heard the National Minister of Transport saying we are well on track to deliver a rail system that is efficient, affordable, safe and reliable – that the infrastructure upgrades and the deployment of new rolling stock would enable us to make commuter rail responsive to the needs of the vast majority of our people. Yet, tomorrow, we compromise on the needs of our people of Malmesbury.

When Prasa announced the withdrawal of the Malmesbury diesel train service and crew on Friday, they cited challenges of depending on a service provider that provides diesel locomotives to complement the Malmesbury service and said they are negotiating with the service provider to seek to resolve the challenge. One step forward and three steps back are far from being well on track.

Commuter rail is indeed the cheapest mode of transport, and it has undeniably played a major role in getting millions of South Africans to work and other places. We must certainly do what we can to support economic growth sectors and provide for basic needs in marginalised areas. This is exactly why the suspension of the Malmesbury train service is a mind-boggling step.

Every day without a train service it is costing us millions in missed opportunities and constraining economic progress and job creation.  This situation cannot continue, and something must change. 

On the one hand, Minister Mbalula acknowledges that the poorest of the poor relied on this service “to eke out a living, whether as hawkers who found a captive market or as job seekers” but, on the other hand, Metrorail withdraws such a service. It simply does not make sense.

Rail passengers in the Western Cape currently face an impossible situation of either having no rail service, or an unreliable service. Travel times are long and planning around the commute is difficult, if not impossible.

Commuters have no alternative but to pay extra money, which they do not have, for the continuous failures of Prasa. This is completely unacceptable and needs to change.

I believe the devolution of the commuter rail function from the national government is the change we need.

I will not rest until rail transport is restored and fully functional in the Western Cape. It is high time that we re-imagine mobility to respond to the serious failings of Prasa.

In the meantime, plans have been put in place to fill the gap temporarily by providing additional buses. I thank Golden Arrow Bus Services in particular, for ensuring that our Malmesbury commuters are not left completely stranded in the absence of trains tomorrow.

Media Queries:          

Ntomboxolo Makoba-Somdaka
Spokesperson for Minister Daylin Mitchell
Cell: 082 953 0026