Commuter rail service planned for Windhoek

By IAfrica
In Features
Aug 21st, 2014
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WINDHOEK – Plans are in the pipeline to introduce a commuter train in Windhoek to ease peak-hour traffic congestion and as a mode of cheap and safe transport for the city’s growing population.

A feasibility study for railway infrastructure for a train that will convey commuters within the city will soon commence, after the Ministry of Finance placed an advert in local newspapers inviting interested companies to bid for the rights to conduct the study that will be used as a blueprint for the planned mega-project expected to cost billions of Namibian dollars.

According to Tuesday’s advert, the train will transport passengers from Windhoek Central to Katutura and other suburbs in and around the city.

The tender document acquired by New Era says the study must address aspects such as the train’s economic viability, environmental impact and engineering designs.

The cost of the feasibility study is unknown but the ministry indicated this would be determined by the tariff of consulting fees as prescribed by the Engineering Professional Act of 1986.

“The increase in the population of the city has led to the increase in the number of vehicles on the streets resulting in severe traffic congestion on most streets leading into and out of town during peak hours. The ministry wishes to alleviate or eliminate this problem by providing an alternative safe and efficient transport mode,” reads the terms of reference for the study.

The consultant will be expected to review the city’s transport master plans and previous discussions regarding the commuter rail line and the proposed route for the train service.

“The consultant will also investigate the possibility of a dual railway line on the whole, or some sections as well as estimate the cost of constructing a new railway line between Windhoek Central and all surrounding suburbs,” states the tender document.

During the feasibility study, the ministry will also expect the consultant to find appropriate locations for stations and halts on the identified route as well as identify the best interchange locations for trains, buses and taxis.

According to the document: “The consultant shall also carry out research on the current travelling markets and passenger movement between Windhoek Central and the surrounding suburbs.” At this point, the ministry says, it envisages the train service to be provided by TransNamib coaches and locomotives, hence the consultant should recommend the suitability of available locomotives and coaches that can be used, and advise on the extra locomotives and coaches required. Other aspects which the consultants will be expected to attend to include financing, governance, ownership, operations and policy.

With the cost of taxis constantly increasing, most non-vehicle owners in the city have resorted to using the bus service of the Windhoek Municipality, which is slightly cheaper than the more conventional taxi services and if introduced the commuter train could provide a cheap and safe mode of transport.

The tendering process closes next month after which a firm to conduct the study will be appointed.

 

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