Transport plays a major role in the shape and direction of a country’s or in this case, a continent’s economy. This is why governments spend fortunes in the development and maintenance of the infrastructure systems. In most cases, the main transports means are rail and road and as the African economies grow, there is need to improve both sectors and identify the better option when it comes to efficiency and cost.
Rail vs. Road
There are quite a number of factors that make railways more efficient as compared to roads. Rail remains one of the safest modes of transport. There are fewer accidents involved in the rail sector and when it happens, the number of casualties and the level of losses are minimal especially when it is a cargo train involved. Africa has embraced the use of rail as a major transport means especially because of the bulk transport factor. Sadly, many of the rail systems in Africa have not grown an inch from where the colonialists left them.
It is cheaper and easier to transport bulk goods over long distances using the railway than using road. This is why most states across Africa are working tirelessly towards the standardization of the rail lines connecting them.
South Africa’s Rail Transport
South Africa is the leading economy in Africa and can boast of the best rail network that connects all the major cities and different regions. The rail transport industry has played a major role in providing a platform for the growth of the country’s economy. The development of the rail lines is advanced such that between 50% and 80% of the lines are electrified. This is one of the factors behind the massive success of rail transport in the country.
There are both commuter rail lines which are popular in reducing traffic around towns and cities as well as cutting down carbon emissions associated with road transport. The other trains are mostly used in transporting bulk cargo such as iron ore which could be very expensive if transported using roads.
Rail Transport And The Economy
The economic growth in Africa depends heavily on infrastructure and the transport industry is an important part of this. Rail transport is emerging as the better option as compared to road because of the cost involved. With trains, more goods are transported at the same time and less fuel is used. This means that the cost of transport will be low and the levels of environmental pollutions will be reduced especially if electric trains are involved.
With the advent of electric trains, transport is about to get a new face in Africa. The speed will mean that more goods will be transported over a short period of time and people will have the freedom of living far away from the city and still make it in time for work in the morning.
There are more pros than cons in the use of rail as the alternative transport method. Looking at the cost efficiency of railways, it is reasonable for the African continent to have the same rail line gauge to open up markets and improve economies using the transport sector. As the rail networks grow, so will the economy of Africa.
But hey, the car is still a must-have, unless you want to build a rail system from your home to school.