There are many people who believe South Africa should move from its current narrow Cape rail gauge (1 067 mm) to the standard gauge (1 435 mm), says Deputy Transport Minister Jeremy Cronin.
However, he says rail operator Transnet is opposed to the this.
“I increasingly agree. The overwhelming gauge around us in Africa is the Cape gauge. We have it, for better or worse.”
Cronin says countries such as Vietnam, Japan, Sudan, Namibia and the Democratic Republic of Congo all use the Cape gauge.
The US makes use of four different gauges, including the Cape gauge, on its coal mines.
Cronin says the Cape gauge should not be viewed as “this backward thing we have to be ashamed of”. “We can stick to it.”
Cronin adds that govern-ment is aiming to integrate its rail vision with its industrial policy perspective, meaning that it wants to use the planned multibillion-rand rolling-stock fleet procurement for Transnet and Metrorail as “an opportunity to leverage and rebuild significant rail engineering capacity in South Africa”.
He notes that there is a “sig- nificant opportunity” to use the economies of scale avail-able in terms of the Cape gauge in the region for companies to then base themselves in South Africa to also serve the region.