Metrorail says services will be reinstated on a gradual roll-out subject to lockdown regulations
By Bulelwa Payi Aug 1, 2020
Cape Town – Train services on some of the major lines are expected to be back in operation over the next two months, following the reintroduction of the Southern line.
Metrorail Western Cape spokesperson Riana Scott said the services would be reinstated on an incremental basis followed by a gradual roll-out depending on the condition of the infrastructure operability of the fleet and relaxed public transport lockdown regulations.
She said according to the readiness assessment, the next lines to be reinstated after the extension of the current Retreat to Fish Hoek and Simon’s Town would be the Cape Flats, Monte Vista and further routes.
The passenger rail operator reinstated the Cape Town-Retreat line after the relaxation of level 3 lockdown regulations, operating on 18 stations on that route.
Metrorail has suffered extensive damage to its infrastructure due to cable theft, arson attacks and vandalism.
Frequent delays and cancellation of train services as well as overcrowding also saw a sharp decline in the number of passengers using the service.
Scott said in May, Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) administrator Bongisizwe Mpondo projected revenue losses for the year to be as much as R757million, largely due to the impact of lockdown.
But trade unions said the major concern was not so much about the readiness of the infrastructure but about security.
“We all know that as soon as the train service is reinstated, then there is a blatant attack on trains. Although there had been suspicions of sabotage, nothing has really come out of the investigations.
“Our biggest problem now is safety; although there is a dedicated police unit, there’s really no security in place,” said United National Transport Union spokesperson Sonja Carstens.
Contracts with security companies were cancelled last year, resulting in shortage of personnel to protect the infrastructure, Carstens added.
Satawu’s national Prasa co-ordinator, Lubabalo Tinzi said: “We appreciate the efforts of the administrator so far to try and resolve the problems, but it will take a collective effort by all stakeholders to resolve the crisis the rail passenger service is facing.
“Any delay in bringing back the service is hurting the tens of thousands of the poor who use the train service.”