During the years of operation by the Phelophepa Train, the increased demand for health care services in additional territories set in motion plans for a second train. That dream became a reality in the Eastern Cape when the second train, Phelophepa II, rolled out to serve the most marginalized and impoverished areas in rural South Africa on March 12, 2012.In February 2010, Transnet Ltd., announced that it had set aside over $10 million for a much-needed Corporate Social Investment project, aimed at helping to boost the availability of primary health care in the rural areas of South Africa.

The new train, which will operate simultaneously with the award-winning Phelophepa I that started in 1994, will extend the reach of primary healthcare offering. Both trains will provide on-board primary healthcare, dental, optometry and psychological care among others.


Phelophepa is a flagship project for South Africa. Phelophepa I made history when it became the first sustainable South African initiative to receive the prestigious United Nations Public Service Award for its excellence in public service delivery and has received numerous accolades in South Africa and around the world.

The introduction of Phelophepa II will more than double the number of people who benefit from the facility, taking the total to an estimated 270, 000 individuals annually. Phelophepa’s extensive community outreach programs also include health, oral and vision screening programs, basic health education courses and community counseling workshops.

The launch of Phelophepa II will allow reaching communities that need it most and demonstrates how public-private sector partnerships can be used to transform lives of communities through social entrepreneurship. Phelophepa II has 20 permanent staff, 16 contracted security officials and 40 students staffing it. As with its predecessor Phelophepa II will run from January to September of every year.  During downtime the trains will be housed at Transnet Rail Engineering’s Salt River Workshop where they undergo regular maintenance and upgrading.

Phelophepa is also a training institution for South African and international final-year professional health students. The trains not only provide practical experience for nursing, dental, optometry, psychology and pharmaceutical students, but also attract catering students needing an opportunity to practice their skills. The new train boasts advanced technology such as the use of fiber optics as a network medium – a first for any train in South Africa.

Swiss-based pharmaceutical company, F. Hoffmann La Roche, a major external sponsor of both trains, sponsors the trains’ primary healthcare clinics and pharmacies, while Colgate-Palmolive partly sponsors the dental clinic. The two partners have been with Phelophepa since it started operating 18 years ago.