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Durban’s integrated station leads the way

Durban’s Bridge City Station, a new railway station being built under the R5bn Bridge City shopping, commercial and residential development situated between four townships north of the city centre, is the first in a roll-out of new stations.

The underground station, already 50% complete, involves 3km of underground track and will be the first underground railway station in SA.

The development, which will also be a bus and taxi hub, the eThekwini municipality is investing more than R150m on a taxi and bus rank, is planned to ease transport problems and provide convenience for about 613000 people living in the KwaMashu, Phoenix, Ntuzuma and Inanda townships.

A hospital, magistrate’s court and other commercial activities are planned for the precinct.

Integrated transport facilities such as at Bridge City will form part of a 20-year rail investment programme, that includes R98bn for new rolling stock.

Department of Transport director-general George Mahlalela says Bridge City will be the first fully integrated transport city in the country and “we need to find ways to replicate the experience all over the country”.

Public-private partnerships and innovative ways to raise public sector financing, are essential, Mr Mahlalela says.

SA’s transport infrastructure has been suffering from years of underinvestment.

For instance, most commuter rail systems have reached the end of their life span after being upgraded in the 1950s, with some lines about 100 years old.


The investment in roads infrastructure, just to arrest the decline in road quality, will cost R75bn over five years.

The capacity at the port of Durban needs to be doubled over 10 years to cope with the growth in exports through it.

Funding will also be required for the upgrading of secondary airports around SA.

Meanwhile, in the maritime sector, “we have realised we are a maritime country without a maritime sector,” with no ships register and “we have to build from scratch,” says Mr Mhalalela.

Three high-speed rail projects, from Johannesburg to Durban, Johannesburg to Cape Town and Johannesburg to Mussina are part of this national transport strategy.

Mr Mahlalela says it is important that the government build its capacity to be able to deliver on its transport projects, and that it also learns from previous experiences, such as preventing spending overruns on projects that had, for instance, seen the project cost of the Gautrain escalate to R25bn from the originally estimated R7bn.

Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) CEO Lucky Montana says the Bridge City station is unique in that it will become self funding, because of the commercial developments that are linked to it.

He says that a crucial aim of Bridge City was to have fully intermodal transport. The history of Durban is such that most industry and businesses were developed in the south, while townships tended to develop in the north of the city.

The long-term goal is for 25000 jobs to be created from Bridge City. The rail extension will have the capacity to serve 40000 commuters a day and handle 1000 passengers in peak hours.

About R360m has been invested in new roads and road upgrades to augment the facilities in the development. Prasa will spend R350m on the underground station in total, while the shopping mall has been developed at a cost of R750m.

On the Durban to Johannesburg high speed rail project, Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele says that, by next month, the department will start with the dual process of concept development and testing the market for a period of six months.

The Durban-Gauteng corridor is claimed to be the busiest corridor in the southern hemisphere both in terms of value and in tonnage and is the backbone of SA’s freight transportation network.

Key nodal points within the corridor are the Port of Durban, Cato Ridge, Harrismith and City Deep in Johannesburg.

Source: Business Day

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