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SA railway system to be 'modernised'

Plans are in the pipeline to extend South Africa's railway lines.

Metrorail

CAPE TOWN - Plans are in the pipeline to extend South Africa's railway lines, with the Passenger Rail Agency sounding a dire warning that the country's rail system could soon become unsafe.

Prasa briefed Parliament on Tuesday on its plans to transform the country's rail network.

CEO Lucky Montana said commuters were paying a heavy price for the country's failure to invest in the system for the past four decades.

He said R136 billion will be pumped into modernising the country's railways, over the next 20 years.

"The first elements of that are already being implemented. We know that the first one starts with a signalling system. We have started it in Gauteng. We are doing it in Kwa-Zulu Natal and the Western Cape, so by 2014 the elements of a modern commuter system are in place."

He said upgrading was no longer enough as fleets needed to be replaced as well.

And commuters will start seeing a difference by 2015.

"We are also implementing short term measures. For the next 18 months there are things that we are doing now to make sure people get a much more decent and reliable service."

He said 7,224 modern passenger coaches will be acquired over the next 20 years.

Meanwhile, the city's Disaster Services said all evidence of Tuesday night's train crash has been removed.

A Metrorail train collided with a stationary goods train near the Fisantekraal station.

One carriage caught alight and one out of 500 passengers escaped unhurt.

Disaster Management's Wilfred Solomons-Johannes said trains were running on the line on Wednesday morning.

He added that investigations into the crash are set to begin.

Metrorail said the crash was not its fault, but was a Transnet issue.

"The only involvement on the part of Metrorail is that the coaches being pulled by a Transnet train freight driver belongs to us. We are not involved in any way."