275 | Raising provincial capacity to get things done: Western Cape Draft Rail Transport Bill

“THE HOLE IN THE WALL”

Overview 

This Bill is an important part of the devotion of transportation functions from national to provincial spheres of government. It is a crucial point of departure as it establishes the appropriate components to host the functions which the Province envisions responsibility for. It establishes an overarching Rail Committee to provide oversight and alignment with the various stakeholders at national, enforcement, policing, municipal, related entities and regulatory bodies. This seems to enable liaison between various government departments for the effective implementation of the policy in a manner that is consistent with key stakeholders. 

Tactical Dimensions

Tactically, the Bill proposes a Rail Unit which is envisioned to drive the tactical practices underpinning the decisions and developments of the Rail Committee. The Rail Unit coordinates the development, implementation and monitoring of the devolved rail transport functions through building capacity, monitoring compliance, safety and the performance of the operators. A core dynamic behind this unit is that it is comprised of individuals with “specialised knowledge of, or training, or experience in, rail services and safe rail operations”. Through this composition, the Bill contemplate that this team will identify issues on the ground through various mechanisms and recommend appropriate interventions. Operationally, the Bill contemplates how information systems, transportation planning, inspectorates and general provisions are treated. 

Limitations

Its biggest limitation is the strong focus on passenger rail transport services (which is understandable, although probably short-sighted), over rail transport in terms of passenger and freight rail. Its second limitation is that modal integration is not a central theme in the Bill; and the limited account of digitisation and technologies seem to be unmentioned in this Bill. This is especially important for regulating systems and services which may need to be developed internally, or those that are developed by private entities with regard to rail transport services (i.e. their evaluation, approval, authentication and service level). 

Specific Comments

1          Chapter 1

1.1       Objectives of Act

  1. 2(b)(ii) dedicated rail inspectorate— provisions for consistency and non-duplication of functions with the Railway Safety Regulator; or direct interrelations between the inspectorate and the RSR*addressed in Chapter 2(2)(h); also see 4(1)(c)
  2. 2(e) by rail operators— purports more than one operator, thus a need to declare the extent to which the bill opens up market access to infrastructure for smaller operators to participate in providing rail transport services. It is inherently reflective of the Rail Policy. Does the policy consider this, as in other countries?

2          Chapter 2

2.1       Establishment of rail committee

  1. (2) Membership — a description of the selection criteria might be relevant and particularly consistent with the Single Transport Economic Regulator, and internal operations. This is policy output (i.e. guidelines for appointment).
  2. (2) (a-h) no representation of the Single Transport Economic Regulator; nor the Public Transport Regulator. Is the assumption that the representative from national department (2)(f) will reflect the interests here? 
  3. Furthermore, with regard to the ownership of rail infrastructure, coordination between PRASA and Transnet Ltd. is key, but there should not be a rail transport bill which focuses only on passenger rail transport only, because the guided infrastructure (i.e. railways) are shared between passenger and freight.
  4.  A representative from Transnet Lt. Is recommended. 
  5. A domestic and international expert on rail transport issues would be advisable, as long as it is not a duplication of the land transport advisory board. This is addressed in the rail unit. 
  6. Given that the Rail Unit is the operational arm of the committee, it is recommended that at least two representatives of the Rail Unit must be part of the Committee. 

2.2       Purpose and function of the committee

  1. 4(b) Adherence— The committee involves various stakeholders, who will be exposed to specific issues the context of rail transport. Local, district and provincial may influence t the status-quo of standards through the committee. Using the term: “adhere to” does not enable a reciprocal relationship between the committee’s work in developing new or extending existing practices. 
    1. Specifically with reference to 7(b)(i)(bb) it is recommended therefore that the statement should read:
      1. “Ensure that both national and provincial norms and standards in respect of rail are improved and adhered to; and”

3          Chapter 3

3.1       Functions of the rail unit

  1. 7(2)(a)(ii) perhaps this could be stated as:
    1. Oversee rail safety in the Province in conjunction with the Railway Safety Regulator”.
  2. 7(2)(a)(v) (aa-ee) the Rail Unit must also report on the economic contribution and costs of delivering rail services in the Province as contemplated in (aa). Therefore it is recommended that (ee) be amended to read:
    1. “Economic cost, and benefits associated with the delivery of rail services in the Province, [in conjunction with the Single Transport Economic Regulator]”
  3. And thus the current (ee) becomes (ff). 
  4. This is crucial for effectively providing for the improvement of rail services or rail safety, as contemplated in 7(b)(ii). 

3.2       Information and monitoring systems

  1. 8(2)(a)-(e), Information captured on the system. It is rather clear that the information prescribed here only reflects issues related to safety, compliance, and occurrences. This is type of information only enables effective information management for 7(2)(i), (ii), (v)(bb), (v)(cc), (v)(dd). 
  2. Therefore excluding crucial institutional capacity, information collection and dissemination, and the recommended economic costs and benefits of rail service delivery information. 
  3. It is recommended that 8(2)(e) should read:
    1. “(e) Institutional capacity, information collection and dissemination and economic cost-benefits related to the delivery of rail services, as contemplated in 8(4); 
  4. Furthermore, in view of 12(4)(b), an integrated system of identification is necessary for rail inspectors, which should also be included in the information system platform at provincial level (which is where they will be certified). Thus, (f) is proposed to read:
    1. (f) Integrated information of rail inspectors that is digitally accessible across facilities for the purpose of identification and verification, not certification; and”
  5. (g) should therefore be the current (e).
  6. Is this consistent with the WC Infrastructure Policy?

4          Chapter 4

4.1       Commuter rail component of integrated transport plans

  1. Possible typo “Commuter rail component of integrated transport plans” as contemplated in 2(d). 
  2. 9(2)(a)-(e), according to the Minimum requirements for integrated transport planning (Chapter 6(c) on pg 18), inter modality between modes is key as contemplated in NLTA Section 15 of Act 5 of 2009, as amended in Section 10 of the Amendment Bill, specifically through intermodal planning committees. 
  3. It is recommended that the commuter rail transport component of an integrated transport plan must also include:
    1. (f) plans to facilitate the integration of rail services with other modes[1].
  4. Thus, the “and” in 9(2)(d) needs to be removed and placed at the end of 9(2)(d). 
  5. Here there is a missing element regarding the freight rail transport component of integrated transport plans.
    1. Therefore it is recommended that 9(3) should be included to read:
      1. The freight rail component of an integrated transport plan must include:
      1. (a) summary of plans and operations by the freight rail operator(s) through, and between towns; 
      1. (b) plans to integrate freight rail with road transport services through appropriate facilities, where suitable; and 
      1. (c) any other matter that is relevant to the treatment of freight goods (i.e hazardous goods).

4.2       Funds for rail improvement

  1. 10, should read:
    1. The Provincial Minister may from funds appropriated by the Provincial Parliament facilitate the provision and improvement of rail services and rail safety. 
    1. It does not reflect the potential of the rail sector to generate funds from:
      1.  services, 
      1. land uses, and
      1. Other sources (i.e. advertising, off-setting)

4.3       Functions of rail inspectors

  1. 12(1)(b) should these reports not be easily integrated into the RSR reports too?
  2. 12(4)(b) Given the potential sensitivity of information, and the probability of fraud.  Introducing identification cards that have a legible digital footprint at all rail operator facilities for the verification and identification of certified inspectors. These cards should be integrated into the information system contemplated in in 8(2). 

[1] This is with specific reference to 1(d) of the National Land Transport Amendment Bill B 7B 2016, pg 3, where the definition of integrated public transport networks is concerned. 

This comment was submitted on the 15th May 2019.

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