According to a report entitled “Prioritisation of rail corridors for Cape Town”, the Blue Downs line has emerged as the next priority rail link in the Cape Town metropolitan region. The line, which comprises a two-track 11.5 km route between the Nolungile and Kuils River stations may benefit first, as part of the National Treasury’s more than R120 billion allocation to reinvest in the existing metropolitan rail networks where Metrorail operates commuter services. It forms a critical link that requires high frequency services to meet long-existing demand towards Bellville, and to facilitate the growth of a more compact Cape Town.
In response to an urgent request from the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) to prioritise and communicate the next major rail interventions, the City of Cape Town and Transport for Cape Town then identified 3 rail links that have consistently been identified as the top priorities:
- Phase 1A: Century City Station to Parklands – realign 1.6km of track at Kentemade Station
- Phase 1 B: Century City Station to Parklands – add 2nd track for 13km to Parklands
- Phase 1 C: Parklands to Atlantis – add 2nd track for 23km to Atlantis
- Possible future regional rail to Saldanha Bay
Blue Downs Line
- Single phase: 2 track rail over 11.5 km from Nolungile to Kuilsriver Stations
- Phase 1A: Kraaifontein to Fisantekraal Stations – single track
- Phase 1 B: Kraaifontein to Fisantekraal Stations – add 2nd track over 7. 5km in the Metropolitan area
After the use of a Multi-Criteria Assessment (MCA) tool developed to assist with the evaluation of the three lines, Blue Downs line was considered most critical. It will require a sizeable investment as it requires many road-over-rail (or vice versa) and rail-over-river crossings are . However, according to the report “the benefits will be immediate and substantial, with the likelihood of having multiplier effects that will grow over time”.
The report states that “severe lack of capacity and the significant detour that persons from the Metro southeast areas experience when traveling to the Bellville node and beyond would lead to the conclusion that significant latent demand exists along this corridor. It is expected that this alternative link to Bellville will have a direct and substantial impact on the quality of service to more than an estimated 50 000 current commuters, to whom this alternative would be available.
The benefits of the new rail links will provide existing commuters with additional capacity and reduced travelling times, as well as greater access to additional facilities such as health, education and recreational facilities. Furthermore, it has the capacity to create a ‘domino effect’ in benefiting the city’s economy by reducing cost and time in transport services with a more decent transport service. It is also set to have profound social benefits for the communities surrounding the improved rail links, where residents will have direct access to public transport and employment opportunities from afar e.g. Mfuleni.
In addition to the Blue Downs line, the report recommends that the city requests PRASA to also commence to improve and provide additional station facilities on the existing Fisantekraal line and also to initiate the provision of station facilities along the existing Atlantis line and introduce an appropriate rail operation to service passengers along the line.
Image courtesy of Bert Kaufmann