Cape Town could soon get a rail link between its main airport and its central business district, the South African Rail Commuter Corporation (SARCC) reports.

The SARCC recently completed a feasibility study on the project, and is looking to partner with the private sector on such a project, CEO Lucky Montana says.

The corporation will be engaging the City of Cape Town as well as the provincial authorities over the proposed project, he adds.

The rail link will likely come on line after the first phase of the high-speed Gautrain, in Gauteng, which will link South Africa’s busiest airport, OR Tambo International, to Sandton, probably only in 2011.

The State-owned SARCC operates the country’s passenger rail company, Metrorail.

Montana says that Metrorail is suffering from years of under- investment, which has driven passenger levels down.

Illustrating this is the fact that it lost 100-million passenger trips over a ten-year period, he notes.

However, Metrorail has shown improvements, and is beating some of the targets that it set out to achieve.

Still, the rail operator requires significant levels of investment, which Montana pegs at a total of R25-billion over the next three years.

He says that 80% of Metrorail’s passengers are working-class males, who earn less than R2 500 a month, and that they will not be able to carry the investment burden.

Rather, Montana says, government, which already subsidises an average of 67% of each Metrorail passenger ticket, needs to step in.

He says that it is a policy and political choice whether the burden should be placed on the shoulders of Metrorail’s customers.