Thousands of train commuters still stranded in Cape Town

Metrorail can’t say when service will resume

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Photo of protesters
Commuters have been left stranded by Metrorail and PRASA. Archive photo of a protest: Ashraf Hendricks

Tens of thousands of commuters who used Cape Town’s Central Line are still waiting for Metrorail to say when the train service, suspended since January 8, will be restored. Meanwhile commuters on the Northern Line were greeted by a filthy toilet this week.

The service on the Central Line came to a halt last month when United National Transport Union (UNTU) members refused to work after the killing of a security guard. On 30 January Sonja Carstens, Media and Liaison Officer at UNTU, said the union’s members were “ready to resume their duties”, following an agreement with the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (PRASA) on security for workers.

But the service was suspended again immediately after vandalism on the line. It is now the fifth week that no trains have run. Spokesperson for Metrorail, Riana Scott, said taking into account single and return ticket sales, weekly ticket sales and monthly ticket sales, 48,000 tickets were sold on the Central Line per weekday when the trains were running.

Scott could not say when the line would be operating again. She told GroundUp that a “multi-faceted service recovery plan” was needed first, involving “ technical-engineering repairs and maintenance, safety and security elements and train operations scheduling arrangements”.

“Some interventions are already in the supply chain procurement process which has to follow due course to comply with State Owned Entity Procurement principles, Treasury regulations and PRASA’s supply chain policies.”

“Repairs are ongoing to overhead traction power, replacement of rail components such as rail clips, point machines and track boxes. The technicians also continue with target hardening critical vulnerable assets encasing these in steel cages for protection.”

Some Central Line commuters have made arrangements using other lines.

But on Tuesday morning Northern line commuters who boarded Metro Plus (which is supposed to offer better service than Metro) were surprised by a filthy toilet.

Photo of a filthy toilet
Commuters on Cape Town’s Northern Line complained about a filthy toilet. Photo: Tariro Washinyira

Metro Plus is supposed to offer better service than Metro. A Metro Plus ticket from Bellville to Wynberg costs R340 and Metro costs R175 per month.

But commuters who entered the carriage at Parow train station found all the passengers squashed at the door and nobody standing at the back. GroundUp went to find out why and found the toilet door open and broken and flies buzzing around the filthy, stinking toilet.

Is this why I am paying a lot of money purchasing a Metro Plus ticket?” asked one commuter.

GroundUp sent Scott the photo of the filthy toilet and asked for comment.

“I have asked the depot maintenance team to check,” she said. “Will request the overnight maintenance team at the depot to assess and either replace carriage or lock the door.”

TOPICS:  Prasa / Metrorail

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