Metrorail a step closer to improving services

The preferred bidder to oversee Metrorail’s revamp has been announced.

The preferred bidder to oversee the Metrorail revamp has been announced.

CAPE TOWN -Thales has been announced as the preferred bidder to oversee a multi-billion rand overhaul of Metrorail's signalling systems.

The French company designs electricity systems.

Earlier in 2012, the rail operator announced plans to acquire more than 7,000 new coaches in the next 20 years.

Work to revamp the signalling system in Cape Town and Durban will start in October.

Metrorail Western Cape manager Mthuthuzeli Swartz said, "The company will start negotiations in September and as soon as talks are concluded, work will start immediately."

The tender is estimated to be worth around R1.8 billion.

Western Cape Transport MEC Robin Carlisle said, "We need to get our signals right so that we can use our trains more strategically."

Metrorail has been condemned for its poor service.

Many workers complain they are usually left stranded due to train shortages and vandalism.

In March, Carlisle threatened to take the rail operator to court if they fail to improve services.

Metrorail has attributed the problems to aging infrastructure.

The company also promised to beef up security following incidents of violence on trains.