Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa

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Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa
State owned enterprise
Industry Passenger rail
Founded 1990 (as SARCC)
Headquarters Johannesburg
Key people
Popo Molefe, Chairman
Lindikaya Zide, Acting CEO
Salani Sithole, COO
Yvonne Page, CFO
Products Transport management services
Revenue R3,3 bn 2016
Number of employees
17,022 2016

The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) is a South African state owned enterprise responsible for most passenger rail services in the country. It consists of four branches: Metrorail, which operates commuter rail services in urban areas; Shosholoza Meyl, which operates regional and inter-city rail services; Autopax, which operates regional and inter-city coach services; and Intersite, which manages the property owned by PRASA.


In 1910, as a consequence of the formation of the Union of South Africa, all railway services in South Africa were merged into the South African Railways and Harbours. The reclassification and renumbering of the rolling stock of the three constituent railways was implemented on 1 January 1912. The South African Railways and Harbours was later renamed the South African Transport Services.[1]

On 1 April 1990, Transnet was created to take over most of the operations of the SATS, with the exception of commuter rail which was transferred to the newly formed South African Rail Commuter Corporation (SARCC). The SARCC owned commuter rail-related assets, including stations and surrounding land, infrastructure and rolling stock, while the services were operated by Metrorail. Initially Metrorail was an operating unit of Spoornet, Transnet's rail subsidiary; in 1996 it became a separate business unit of Transnet. Long-distance passenger rail services, meanwhile, were operated by Spoornet (now Transnet Freight Rail) under the name Shosholoza Meyl.

In April 2011, PRASA announced a huge plan to replace rolling stock, worth R97bn; 6600 new vehicles would be ordered.[2]


The government observed that the separation of ownership between SARCC and Transnet caused problems, in particular with disputes over the responsibility for maintenance and investment. In 2006 ownership of Metrorail was transferred to the SARCC, unifying the responsibility for commuter rail. On 23 December 2008 the SARCC was renamed the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa, and in subsequent months Shosholoza Meyl and Autopax were transferred from Transnet to PRASA. This left PRASA as the owner of all the passenger-carrying operations of the former SATS.

Prasa mismanagement led to the loss of R2.65 billion, through the acquisition of Spanish Afro 4000 trains which were unsuitable for South African rails. The Afro 4000 requires 4.14 meters of clearance, too high for SA rail infrastructure at 3.965m.[3] Resulting scandal led to the 2015 removal of CEO, Lucky Montana and his chief engineer 'Dr.' Daniel Mtimkulu. Subsequent investigation revealed Daniel Mtimkulu falsified his qualifications. Having claimed to possess an electrical engineering doctorate, he was exposed as merely a technologist without even having completed a 4-year Engineering B.S.[4]

PRASA has been criticised for being very slow to pay suppliers.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Classification of S.A.R. Engines with Renumbering Lists, issued by the Chief Mechanical Engineer's Office, Pretoria, January 1912. (Reprinted in April 1987 by SATS Museum, R.3125-6/9/11-1000)
  2. ^ "Railway Gazette: PRASA to order 6 000 vehicles under fleet renewal plan". 2011-04-07. Retrieved 2011-04-08. 
  3. ^  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  4. ^  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  5. ^ "PRASA IN COURT OVER NON-PAYMENT". Railways Africa. Retrieved 2011-02-19. 

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