What we do

Rail Chamber

The Executive Officer of TETA’s Rail Chamber is Kate Mokgadi Setjie. Setjie, with her team based in Randburg, oversees the implementation of TETA’s mandate in Free State.

About the Rail Subsector

The rail industry employs over 90,000 workers involved in two main subsectors of passenger services (PRASA) and goods and freight (Transnet). The latter has a capacity of more than 200 million tons annually. A number of medium-sized rail enterprises play major role in the sector economically. Most of the tonnage is in coal and mineral ore transportation for local and foreign markets. Rail industry has significantly lost its traditional advantage to move general freight to the more competitive road freight subsector. The road freight subsector, which is mainly privately owned, has become more competitive due to, among other reasons, improved road network within the country and regionally.

The current TETA-led skills development training initiatives for the sector is reviewed annually for the continued relevance to strengthen the sector through the Sector Skills Plans (SSP).

As part of the Strategic Integrated Programmes (SIPs) and to improve the quality of the railway lines in South Africa, Transnet has invested R300 billion for infrastructure development and refurbishment. This investment is meant to invigorate the economy, create jobs and address poverty. On the other hand, the Prasa-Gibela project is expected to create around 8 000 indirect and 300 direct sustainable jobs through the R51 billion train manufacturing project started which is currently replacing outdated rolling stock and will deliver 600 state-of-the art passenger trains into the South African rail network over the next 10 years.

Rail Industry Economic Contribution

In 2015, Transnet estimated a need for R330 billion rolling stock investment programme with the objective of expanding the country’s freight railway, ports and pipeline infrastructure and to improve operational effectiveness of the freight logistics system. This would transform freight rail into one of the world’s biggest rail freight companies. It was also estimated that rail volumes will increase from 210 million tons to 350 million tons during the period” (SOE Review, 22/11/2016)

This investment would boost the economic growth of the country and ease traffic on the roads as more freight would be diverted to rail instead of road.

With a network spanning 20 247km of rail, South Africa has the 14th longest railway track in the world, connecting ports with the rest of the country.

Passenger rail is also being completely overhauled with a 20-year fleet renewal programme in place to buy more than 7 200 new trains. Managed and implemented by the PRASA, the programme focuses on revitalising the local industry through local manufacturing of components. The existing rail network will be upgraded to take advantage of the new coaches’ technological features (Brand SA, 28 Jun 2017).

On the other hand, Bombela Operating Company and other agencies provide international standards of public transport with high levels of safety, reliability, predictability and comfort. The 77 kilometres long Gautrain aims to improve efficiency of the public transport system and help alleviate traffic congestion along the Ben Schoeman highway. It integrates other forms of public transport such as taxis, buses and the Metrorail public train system while linking the country’s capital, Pretoria, the business hub of Johannesburg and the Ekurhuleni aerotropolis. The Gautrain, Africa’s only high-speed train, services Johannesburg, Pretoria and OR Tambo International Airport, transporting 62 000 people daily.


  • The challenges faced by the subsector are around infrastructure development, re-skilling of employees on logistics, supply chain and use of technology to track goods as well as significant aspects of infrastructure development including signalling and electrification infrastructure;
  • The industry is facing significant competition from the road freight sector in both goods freight and passenger transport due to lack of reliability resulting from the effects of aging rail infrastructure;
  • Lack of participation in skills development initiatives and submission of WSP and ATRs;
  • Non-utilisation of developed qualifications registered on the NQF by industry as industry continues to utilise non-credited, self-developed enterprise training;
  • Difficulty in finding host companies for workplace experience, especially for Electricians and Fitter and Turners;
  • Delays in implementing training projects;
  • Lack of employment opportunities for learners after training completion;
  • Insufficient funding for projects/training interventions.

Strategic Focus

To address the key rail industry challenges in skills development, the Chamber aims to employ the following strategies:

  • Conduct sector research to provide evidence based information and to develop more innovative skills development training programmes to match requirements for management of the new public investment programmes. This will assist to generate information and data on performance of the sector which will be utilised for continuing improvements of skills development initiatives in the sector;
  • Increase the pool of artisans in the subsector by supporting training initiatives;
  • Create skilled leadership to address transformation in the rail industry;
  • Implement rail safety programmes aimed at reducing the number of accidents and fatalities – the Railway Safety Inspector NQF Level 06 occupational certificate have been registered to this effect.

Key Achievements

Some of the key highlights of TETA’s contribution to the rail industry includes:

  • Collaborating with the Railway Safety Regulator and the Expanded Public Works Programme to train 133 unemployed youth in various disciplines within the railway sector, i.e. level crossing standards in South Africa, passenger flow and safety in stations and occupational health and hazards within railway operations;
  • Providing training and support to 100 small business enterprises and Recognition of Prior learning (RPL) to 300 learners in a partnership between TETA and Office of the Premier in Free State;
  • Providing apprenticeship to 100 unemployed youth in partnership with the Labour Activation Programmes Unit of the UIF, with learners sourced primarily from rural and township areas across the country;
  • Providing apprenticeship to 200 unemployed youth in partnership with Transnet SOC(School of Engineering);
  • Providing apprenticeship to 30 learners at Mopani TVET in Limpopo and 34 learnerships at Motheo TVET in Free State;
  • Sponsoring graduate placement of 24 TVETS and 30 university graduates at Transnet SOC;
  • Providing driver licenses to 39 Central University of Technology learners in the Free State and Professional Driving Learnerships to 49 unemployed youth in partnership with Transnet Freight Rail;
  • Providing Master of Science Bursaries in Port and Coastal Engineering to 12 Transnet Engineers;
  • Launched a first time ever Learnership for Rail Construction and Maintenance in Modderfontein with ten learners, in partnership with SAFLOG and R&H Rail (Pty) Ltd.

Employee/Employer representatives:

  • The South African Transport Allied Workers Union (SATAWU)
  • United National Transport Union (UTATU), Rail Road Association (RRA)
  • Railway Safety Regulator (RSR) and Transport and Logistics Employers Association (TLEA) have some footprint in the subsector.

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011 577 7000 / 011 577 7040
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