10 January 2018

South Africa: Metrorail Keeps Cape Town Central Line Closed Until Police Give Safety Go-Ahead Following Shooting Death

Cape Town's entire central line train service will stay closed until police declare it safe enough for trains to operate again after a security guard was shot dead, Metrorail said on Wednesday.

"The central train service remains suspended for at least this afternoon and tomorrow (Thursday) morning," said Metrorail Western Cape spokesperson Riana Scott.

Metrorail has negotiated limited use of Golden Arrow bus services to serve stranded commuters who use the busiest line to get to areas such as Philippi, Bishop Lavis, Langa, Nyanga and Mitchells Plain.

Scott said Metrorail monthly or weekly ticket-holders can use Golden Arrow buses during off-peak hours - outbound to Khayelitsha on Wednesday afternoon after 18:00, and inbound on Thursday after 08:30.

Stations remain closed and no single/return tickets will be sold for the time being.

Metrorail regional manager Richard Walker said he was outraged by the shooting of the guard on Tuesday night, and said the line would stay closed until the company got police clearance to go ahead.

Security guard robbed, shot

Metrorail and police officials have been meeting since Tuesday night over the matter.

"At this stage prevailing crime in the area still threatens Metrorail's ability to render a service to commuters in area central, and without assurance that the situation is under control we will not be able to operate," stated Walker.

Services were suspended after a security guard "providing armed escort" was killed at around 18:14 on Tuesday.

Police spokesperson Captain FC van Wyk said the 50-year-old security guard was shot dead at Chris Hani station in Makhaza, Khayelitsha.

"Unidentified suspects robbed and shot the victim," said Van Wyk.

Train lines were also closed at Paarl train station on Wednesday morning after a death at the station shortly before 08:00 on Wednesday.

Further details on that incident were not immediately available.

Train crashes

In the meantime, the impact of the Railway Safety Regulator's (RSR) manual signalling prohibition directive in the province was not yet known.

Scott said Metrorail in the province was waiting to hear from head office first.

"We are unable to comment on the prohibition notice as yet as it was served to our national office - as soon as they inform us of details we will be able to respond regionally with operations details," said Scott.

The RSR issued the manual signalling prohibition on Wednesday morning in response to a crash at a station in the Geldenhuys area of Germiston, east of Johannesburg, in Gauteng.

RSR board chairperson Dr Nomusa Qunta said initial information showed that there was a rear-end collision when one train was stopped at the station, and another on the same track was manually authorised to enter the station.

Call for independent inquiry

Acting CEO of the RSR Tshepo Kgare told media earlier on Wednesday that it noted the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa's systemic problems around communications because of cable theft, but they still had to keep the railways safe.

She said inspectors were on site to make sure this was complied with.

In addition to the Germiston crash, last Friday, 19 people died when a train crashed into the trailer of a truck transporting soya beans near Geneva station in the Free State.

The RSR's preliminary inquiry has found that the driver of the truck tested negative for alcohol, that there was a good line of sight in spite of some bushes near the crossing, and that crossing signage and protection was adequate.

However, it wants to know how five coaches caught fire after the crash as this was the primary cause of death in that accident and for this reason, wanted an independent board of inquiry to investigate further.

It also wanted the police report of the driver's account of the crash.

Source: News24

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