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Hundreds of rusted Shosholoza Meyl long-distance train carriages to be scrapped and sold

Hundreds of rusted Shosholoza Meyl long-distance train carriages to be scrapped and sold
Shosholoza Meyl carriages left to rust at Pretoria’s Bosman Street station. (Photo: Ezekiel Kekana)

Prasa says only two routes are operating while 155 carriages parked for years in Pretoria’s Bosman Street station are ‘obsolete.’

The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) says 396 Shosholoza Meyl carriages, most of its fleet, are “obsolete” and will soon be scrapped or sold.

At Pretoria’s Bosman Street station alone, there are 155 carriages rusting on the sidings, some for over a decade according to satellite photos.

Prasa told GroundUp that there are “over 600 carriages” for Shosholoza Meyl trains across the country.

295 coaches “will undergo general overhaul” over the course of the next five years, and 22 coaches will be refurbished in the current financial year — the rest will be sent to the scrapyard. Prasa said that the Bosman Street station carriages were among the 396 carriages nationally that would be scrapped and sold.

Shosholoza Meyl, which handles Prasa’s long-distance train services, has had its trains out of service in Gauteng and the Western Cape yards since February 2020, when it was shut down on the Railway Safety Regulator’s instructions after a fatal crash outside Johannesburg.

It has only recently resumed limited operations on two routes — Johannesburg to East London, and Johannesburg to Musina in Limpopo province.

GroundUp visited the carriages at Pretoria Bosman station. The doors and some of the windows of the carriages have either been vandalised or are missing. The upper parts of the carriages are covered in rust.

The obsolete carriages take up most of the space in the yard’s staging area. Many of the carriages have been pillaged for parts by thieves.

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But these rusting hulks should soon leave their purgatory at the station sidings.

Prasa’s spokesperson Andiswa Makanda told GroundUp that the rail agency “has approved a retirement strategy for 2022/23 and a scrapping contract has been awarded that will assist in the disposal of obsolete assets”.

Makanda said that Prasa could not share their scrapping strategy because it is an “internal document”, but confirmed that it is “currently in implementation”. She said that a company would be appointed “to assist with scrapping in a very safe manner and so our yards allow for storage.” She did not say when it would start.

Prasa says the lifespan of its train carriages is about 40 years, with each carriage undergoing a general maintenance overhaul after each “nine to ten years”.

However, the state-owned rail agency admitted that “majority of our fleet will undergo heavy maintenance general overhaul while some of our coaches are obsolete in terms of the technologies fitted on them.”

We have previously reported on how railway infrastructure has been vandalised during the lockdown of 2020 which has disrupted many of Prasa’s operations including intra-city routs.

Makanda said Prasa intends to continue operating the Shosholoza Meyl service as it forms part of “Prasa’s primary mandate”. The service would “progressively resume” operations as infrastructure improves, but Makanda did not provide further details.

“Shololoza is currently experiencing delays as a result of the vandalised infrastructure. The railway infrastructure rebuilding process is currently underway from both Prasa and Transnet Freight Rail,” she said. DM

First published by GroundUp.


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • virginia crawford says:

    it is a disgrace to see this waste. But what about using them as emergency housing, local libraries. They have successfully been used as restaurants, so why not?

  • Brenda Mathewson-Eraclides says:

    Please can I have some of these carriages? They will do incredibly well as pre-Schools, nurseries, libraries and accommodation in the townships. Let’s turn the bad into good here.. please!!! We can transform one informal settlement into a more dignified living space for the residents with these carriages.

  • Phil Baker says:

    How can scrapping publicly owned assets be a state secret?!

  • Chris 123 says:

    How sad is there bother the ANC hasn’t destroyed 😖

  • talfrynharris says:

    Twenty eight years of “freedom” have created a kingdom of rust except for the shiny cars of the “liberators”. Grass grows in the gutters and litter chokes the storm drains. It is heartbreaking to see what our once proud railways, and our world-class ESKOM have been reduced to. Our only hope is with the youth, they will need all the luck, the generation that inherited SA in 1994 leave devastation in their wake like a horde of locusts.

  • Frank John Meyer says:

    Can I buy one of these carriages?
    Who can I contact to buy one?

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