SOUTH AFRICAN Transport Minister Dullah Omar has approved a R400m investment package for modernising the country’s urban rail networks over the next five years. Funding is being allocated to SA Rail Commuter Corp in the national budget for safety improvements including signalling and telecommunications upgrading.

Later this year SARCC expects to award the first tenders in its nationwide resignalling plan. The work will focus on refurbishing or replacing older equipment, with a view to reducing maintenance costs. All surface cables in southern Gauteng will be buried to reduce theft. The junctions at Germiston and Bellville will be resignalled, and a number of existing CTC areas will be merged. Smaller projects will cover lines in Durban, Port Elizabeth and East London.

The Transport Department is to submit draft legislation for the establishment of a Rail Safety Regulator during the current session of parliament. The minister wants to see the regulator’s department operational by the end of this year.