31 January 2018

South Africa: Central Line Train Service Still Suspended

The train service on Cape Town's Central Line has still not been restored, and Metrorail says it cannot say when the trains will run again.

The service was suspended on 8 January, when United National Transport Union (UNTU) members refused to work after the killing of a security guard. After meetings with the Passenger Rail Agency of SA at which PRASA agreed to step up security on the line, UNTU members agreed to return to work. But services were immediately suspended again following vandalism on the line, and have not been restored.

Sonja Carstens, Media and Liaison Officer at UNTU, told GroundUp the union's members were "ready to resume their duties."

But Riana Scott, spokesperson for Metrorail, said the trains were still not operating. She could not say when the service would resume.

"The system remains live to allow our engineers to conduct tests and should under no circumstances be tampered with," said Scott. "The overhead current providing traction power to the trains is 50 times as potent as domestic electricity (11 000 volts vs 220 volts) and any attempt to tamper with the overhead power could result in fatal electrocution."

Councillor Brett Herron, Mayoral Committee Member for Transport and Urban Development, has linked the recent stoning of MyCiTi buses to problems on the railway.

Herron said about eight stoning incidents had taken place along the N2 Express routes in Khayelitsha and Mitchells Plain on 27 and 28 January. One passenger had been injured and had glass splinters removed from his eyes.

"I want to reiterate that we have never had so many incidents/attacks on our MyCiTi buses over one weekend. Moreover, all of these attacks happened along the N2 Express routes that serve the Metro South-east -- that is, Mitchells Plain and Khayelitsha -- the very same areas that are severely affected by the temporary suspension of the Metrorail Central Line. Thus, my conclusion is that the criminals are targeting the MyCiTi bus service in these areas as we are trying to assist stranded commuters who cannot use the Central Line to get to and from work."

Asked to explain the link between the suspension of the Central Line and the stoning of the buses, Herron said only: "The South African Police Service (SAPS) is responsible for crime intelligence and the investigation of these incidents - they are best placed to respond to your question."

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