What does PRASA stand for? There were three focuses within the presentation; the current state of the transport system, short-term (6-12 months), medium-term (12-24 months) and long-term (36+ months) strategies. PRASA was launched formally in 2009 in order to transform and consolidate all passenger rail companies in the country into a single entity. The primary objective of PRASA according to the Legal Succession Act was given as the provision of urban rail commuter services in the public interest as well as long haul passenger rail and bus services. Secondly PRASA was required to generate income from the exploitation of assets while giving due regard to the government’s socio-economic and transport objectives. PRASA was responsible for effectively developing and managing rail and rail related transport infrastructure while providing efficient rail and road based passenger transport within, and to and from urban and rural areas. Some of the major challenges to South African railways were the ‘end of the design’ lifespan for the entire railway system including infrastructure, technology, operating systems and staffing numbers. The deterioration of current rail technology was noted as were poor levels of reliability and the high costs of maintaining infrastructure. These factors led to a failure to contribute to an efficient transport system and to support economic development. This also caused limited access to socio-economic opportunities for the rural and urban poor. The current system required a major transformation and modernisation and could not continue in its present form. Recent remarks by President Zuma were echoed – that the poor state of the commuter rail system resulted in the inability to support economic development. The growth of the mini-bus taxi industry and transfer of freight from rail to road transport had further negatively affected the sustainability of the rail system. Railways in Europe and China were given as examples of well-functioning rail systems tailor-made to transport massive numbers of people and freight over specific transport corridors. Spain was noted as a country which had invested large amounts of capital into modernising and improving rail infrastructure and given as a possible model for South Africa. Mr Montana emphasised that 40 years of neglect had finally caught up with South African rail and there was a dire need for reform. No new coaches had been purchased for over 16 years except for the Gautrain and the majority of trains needed to be scrapped in haste as they presented a real security threat to passengers. Current Metrorail trains failed to stand up to international standards apart from heating. Trains were said to be five times heavier than trains in other countries which reduced energy efficiency and effectiveness. During morning and evening rush hour, trains were overcrowded and made irregular stops which increased the potential for passenger death or a major rail accident. From 2005/06 urgent measures were demanded by government to arrest the decline and prevent the eventual collapse of Metrorail. Since then, R5 billion had been spent to stabilise the service and it became the backbone of the transport sector prior to the 2010 World Cup. In Cape Town in particular, Metrorail was able to transport thousands of people to stadiums which was a solid example of the arrested decline in service provision. The next challenge was to move away from stabilisation to a situation where the system could deliver world class services to passengers. Although PRASA would continue to be subsidised by government, it needed to be transformed into a commercially viable organisation. In Berlin, 30% of station income was derived from non-riders, simply people coming into the station for services such as food, and this was something that needed to become a focus in South Africa as well. Key interventions were given as strengthening the financial position of PRASA through restructuring and recapitalisation schemes. A 90-day Action Plan to address serious issues which included preventative maintenance and a compliance with statutory requirements while instilling a culture of good corporate practices, was also discussed. Within operational effectiveness there was a dire need to recognise the underlying causes. There was a huge problem with safety five years ago but this situation was currently improving gradually. The level of crime was reduced on trains after the introduction of railway police in 2006 had helped to reduce crime by 40%. The most important issue for riders was getting to work on time. In the early 80s and 90s there was over 90% predictable train service performance; however now the numbers were closer to 75%. Almost 50% of the train fleet had been non-operational but since then R8 billion was pumped into refurbishing trains and improvements. As part of the stabilisation programme, orders for refurbishment were placed for over 700 coaches per year up from only 200 a few years ago. This year 530 coaches would be refurbished at a cost of R2 billion. About 15% of train sets had been refurbished so far at a cost of roughly R7million per coach.Mr Montana stressed that the procurement of new rolling stock needed to involve local companies. The Cabinet had instructed Metrorail to boost services in certain high-priority corridors. As well there was a need to improve the quality of maintenance. Propulsion systems were noted to be ineffective due to aging parts.