Running the gauntlet of road accidents in order to get to Christmas holiday destinations is to become a thing of the past if the Department of Transport plans for a railway line linking the Western Cape, Eastern Cape and KZN come to fruition.
Earlier this month President Jacob Zuma told Parliament that plans to build a railway line running between Durban and Cape Town through the Eastern Cape were on track.
Zuma said such a railway line would not only ease congestion on the N2 but would open up the Eastern Cape to economic development.
This week the Department of Transport provided further details after questions were sent to them by The New Age.
Departmental spokesperson Logan Maistry said a coastal rail link between Cape Town and Durban would mean freight would not have to be carried by road and would benefit tourism development along the Garden Route.
Rail connectivity between the three coastal provinces was key to their growth and development aspirations, he said.
The railway line would transport people as well as goods and thus would benefit the tens of thousands of people who travel between the Western Cape and Eastern Cape over the holiday season.
He said construction of the railway line would begin after feasibility studies, which would also provide time frames, were completed.
But he said the existing line between Mthatha and East London was planned for Phase 1 of the rail development, with Phase 2 being a new rail connection linking Mthatha, Eastern Cape, and KwaZulu-Natal as part of the “Wild Coast corridor development”.
Phase 3 would involve upgrading the line through Cookhouse and a new rail line between Port Elizabeth and East London.
Phase 4 would be a line connecting the Eastern Cape and Western Cape through Port Elizabeth to Cape Town through Knysna, George and Mossel Bay.
The full benefits of the rail link will only be enjoyed by the next generation, however, as Phase 1 to 3 is targeted for completion only by 2030. – WCN