Draft National Rail Policy on Track

Department of Transport

The Draft White Paper on the National Rail Policy has been approved by the Economic Sectors, Employment and Infrastructure Development Cluster for submission to cabinet.

The transport department announced this during a briefing on its quarter 4 performance report for 2017/18.

The draft white paper was released for comment in July 2017.

The draft policy focuses on infrastructure investment to strengthen rail’s competitiveness and enabling interventions to adjust institutional arrangements so that rail functions effectively.

The plan is to implement Standard Gauge on the national rail network while maintaining Cape Gauge on the metropolitan commuter networks.

Regulated competition will also be introduced into the freight rail market.

The draft policy also calls for the crafting of a National Rail Act setting out the minimum elements of national rail policy, the department’s duty to consult with provincial and other stakeholders on the national rail policy, sanctions in the event of non-compliance with the policy and urgent issues to be addressed.

Some of the issues covered in the draft white paper include railway origins, existing railway operators, performance challenges, institutional challenges, rails backlog relative to other modes, rail trends, road trends, infrastructure investment, enabling interventions, freight rail, passenger rail and implementation priorities.

During the briefing, the department also revealed that the Draft Railway Safety Bill had also been approved for tabling at cabinet, a Draft Air Services Amendment Bill drawn up and the revised Draft White Paper on the National Transport Policy had been approved by the cluster for submission to cabinet.

The Draft Economic Regulation of Transport Bill has also been approved for tabling in cabinet.

Comment was sought on the draft bill earlier this year.

The proposed legislation seeks to set up two independent but integrated regulatory agencies, the Transport Economic Regulator and the Transport Economic Council.

The department also recently provided responses to submissions on the Road Accident Benefit Scheme Bill, tabled in parliament in June 2017.

It aims to provide a social security scheme for the victims of road accidents.

A Road Accident Benefit Scheme Administrator will be set up to implement and run the scheme.

The proposed legislation also aims to provide a set of defined benefits on a no-fault basis for injury or death arising from car accidents.

Sabinet Cape Town Office