Train commuting — the struggle is real

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November 29, 2016
Train commuting — the struggle is real

GOING NOWHERE: Cape Town station during peak hour

Taxis, buses packed after rail vandals cause delays.

There was chaos on the train lines on Monday and Tuesday after vandals struck over the weekend.

Thousands of commuters were left stranded as trains were delayed for between two and four hours as Metrorail scrambled to replace 500 stolen signal cables.

The rail company warns commuters to make alternative transport plans today as more delays are expected.

The chaos also affected other public transport services, as train commuters piled into taxis and buses to get home during rush hour yesterday.

During peak hour, Cape Town station was a ghost town, while the bus station and taxi rank was teeming with thousands of commuters trying to get home.

While Metrorail tweeted there was a delay of four hours, Metrorail spokesperson Riana Scott said it was more like two.

She says the delays were caused because their control centre could not keep track of the trains without the stolen signal cables.

“We confirm that the incident happened between Maitland and Woltemade at a juncture where some 500 signal cables converge,” she says.

“Hence the vandalism affected all train lines — our control centre was unable to confirm the position of trains on the network (similar to the airport being without radar).

“The incident is being investigated by ourselves for security and operational purposes and by SAPS as a crime.”

She says Metrorail will work on ways to prevent similar incidents in the future.

Scott urged commuters to make use of alternative transport in the meantime.

“Some northern trains will be re-routed via Mutual. We recommend that anyone who has not yet bought their train ticket to opt for alternative transport; failing which we appeal for patience. We will continue to service stations until platforms are clear.

She adds: “Our special appeal to communities to expose vandals and to scrap dealers who continue to flout the law by accepting copper without certificates of origin.”

On Tuesday morning, Metrorail tweeted that commuters had the option of using an allocated bus service in certain areas. Being in possession of a weekly and monthly Metrorail ticket would secure your seat.

Cosatu’s Tony Ehrenreich says they are “appalled” at the disruption.

“Metrorail must take some responsibility for not managing the service more effectively. Cosatu can understand that some of the problems are caused by criminality and cable theft, but we must insist that more proactive steps are taken by Metrorail.”

Follow Metrorail on Twitter @CapeTownTrains for regular updates.

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