Rail link will offer economic boost

The City of Cape Town has approved the rail line to link Kuils River and Khayelitsha, which many hope will ease crippling traffic congestion, but construction will probably only start in four to five years.

The line is part of the City’s revised Built Environment Performance Plan (BEPP), which it approved late last month and which directs how it will spend its capital budget for the next financial year.

From the start of next month, the City will spend the bulk of the R6.8 billion budget on projects within three integration zones seen as key to rebooting Cape Town’s spatial dynamics and exorcising the legacy of apartheid city planning.

According to Brett Herron, mayoral committee member for transport and urban development, public transport lies at the heart of the plan to create a more integrated and less congested city; the idea being that throngs of commuters at new transport hubs will draw entrepreneurs, create jobs and spawn housing projects.

One of the integration zones is Blue Downs, and the rail link between Kuils River and Khayelitsha, it is hoped, will be the catalyst for future development there.

Mr Herron said the spatial transformation “must assist us in alleviating poverty and inequality”.

The 9km, R5 billion double-track line between the Nolungile station in Khayelitsha and the Kuils River station has been on the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) drawing board for more than a decade (“Massive rail upgrade plan,” Northern News, August 17, 2016).

The link will include three new stations: Mfuleni, Blue Downs and Wimbledon.

Prasa spokesperson Nana Zenani said construction on the link would only likely begin within the next four to five years.

Mr Herron said Prasa was the main investor in the rail link, but the City would invest in a MyCiTi bus feeder system to and from the railway stations in future, including a dedicated red road along Symphony Way.

“The details of the total investment needed from the City will be determined at a later stage,” Mr Herron said.

The new stations would help to create new job opportunities for many, he said.

“The three new stations on the Blue Downs rail line will become major opportunities for the development of multi-functional integrated hubs of mobility, commercial and living spaces.

“Going forward, the City, along with Prasa, will determine land use development and management opportunities in and around the proposed new stations. That said, it will take a number of years to establish the three integration zones,” he said.