R70.7 million to eliminate eight level crossings

Donald Grant, Minister of Transport and Public Works and Richard Walker, Metrorail Regional Manager

As part of the Level crossing elimination programme, the construction of a bridge over the railway line at Vlaeberg Road is well under way. The level crossing elimination programme is a collaborative project between the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) and the Provincial Government of the Western Cape. The project is financed by the Western Cape Government, with a contribution by PRASA, at a cost totalling R70.7 million.

The Western Cape Metrorail region has the highest number of level crossings (forty/40) within its rail network. Thirty seven (37) of these belong to PRASA; the remaining three (3) belong to Transnet Freight Rail but are also used by Metrorail.

The first phase of the project will comprise:

  • the building of an overhead bridge at Vlaeberg level crossing;
  • the erection of a footbridge for pedestrians at Lynedoch level crossing and;
  • the upgrading of Metrorail’s service road in the section between Vlaeberg and Vlottenberg to a provincial road.

These three projects will result in the elimination of six (6) level crossings. In addition, two (2) farm crossings will be eliminated by the building of under-passes for the exclusive use of farmers; bringing the total number of crossings to be eliminated to eight (8).

“Level crossings in this province have been the scene of some of the most horrific crashes and incidents threatening the safety of the road using public. The Western Cape government, and our partners at PRASA and at municipal level, continue to look at ways in which to make level crossings safer, as well as ways in which we can move closer to the ideal where fewer and fewer vehicles have to make use of level crossings, as a means of safe passage over railway tracks. Our joint consolidation and elimination efforts are certainly a step in the right direction when it comes to increasing safety and compliance at level crossings,” said Minister Grant.

Speaking at a media briefing on site, Metrorail Western Cape Regional Manager Richard Walker said the benefits of eliminating level crossings are many: “Most importantly we would save lives and curtail injuries by removing level crossings. Fewer incidents will also limit damage caused to trains and infrastructure, thereby lowering maintenance and repair costs”.

He expressed his appreciation to Metrorail’s principal, PRASA, and the Western Cape Department of Transport & Public Works for their support of this worthy initiative: “This region is privileged to have supportive stakeholders who do not hesitate to work together to improve the dominant public transport mode in  the Western Cape”.

Twenty nine (29) level crossings are situated in this corridor. The motivation for the level crossing elimination programme to commence in the northern service corridor is that the number of rail incidents at level crossings along the Eerste River – Stellenbosch railway line is high, with several fatal crashes recorded. This is why PRASA supports viable proposals to eliminate level crossings along this stretch of railway line.

Commuters will see immediate benefits in the form of fewer delays/cancellations due to incidents, as well as through the lifting of speed restrictions on approach to level crossings.