Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa), a commuter rail parastatal, has invested R400m in revamping Cape Town’s central station ahead of the 2010 Soccer World Cup.

This multimillion-rand facelift to transform the original buildings that are almost 50 years old into a “world- class transport node” forms part of Prasa’s plan to spend about R1,75bn on World Cup-related projects. Other train station upgrades, expected to end in April next year, have already started at Nasrec, Mabopane and Doornfontein stations.

Patric Gombert, executive manager of property development at Intersite Property Management Services, Prasa’s property unit, said last week that the parent group had budgeted R418m for the first phase of the refurbishment of Cape Town station in the heart of the city.

Of the R25bn Prasa intended to invest over the next three years, R14,7bn would finance the improvement of coaches, signalling projects, technology infrastructure and the upgrade of stations, including World Cup stations.

Gombert said the investment was not targeted at increasing the space but rather at improving the physical and technological structure of the station in making it an attractive passenger rail space that enticed commuters to use rail as their first option of public transport.

The renovation of Cape Town station would cost R400m, five times more than the R75m spent revamping Doornfontein station.

He said the project was initiated by the availability of funding from the government to ensure that the World Cup left a legacy for Cape Town as a city, the Western Cape as a province and the country as a whole.

“It is about moving our facilities to the next level and benchmarking our facilities to best international practices,” Gombert said.

The huge revamp of the Cape Town station precinct, due for completion in April next year, included renovations to the existing station building and the relocation of the long-distance bus terminal

Lindelo Matya, regional manager of Intersite Property Services, said the idea was to create a vibrant transport hub that was both modern and functional. He said the train information systems would be enhanced with a multimillion-rand investment in an electronic information system, public address system and information kiosks.