Metrorail workers threatened by commuters

2011-01-14 14:53

Angry commuters have threatened to attack Metrorail drivers, conductors and support staff if train services are not running properly by Monday, the United Transport and Allied Trade Union (Utatu) said.

“Our affected members are taking these threats very seriously because the fatigued state of Metrorail’s train sets and signalling system makes the chances of further train cancellations and delays a virtual certainty,” Utatu general secretary Chris de Vos said in a statement today.

“In an attempt to alleviate the problem, Metrorail has also appealed to commuters and staff to “plan around the delays or to seek alternative transportation while repairs are under way, but we all know that won’t happen.”

The union had asked the Passenger Rail Agency of SA to introduce urgent measures to protect its train crew, he said.

If effective security measures were not immediately put in place, Utatu’s frontline members would reconsider whether or not to report for duty on Monday.

Metrorail Gauteng had experienced an unusually large number of train breakdowns, causing cancellations and delays, due to the incessant rain, an official said on Friday.

“These breakdowns are caused by the ageing railway infrastructure and its inability to handle the consequences brought about by excessive rain,” provincial manager for Metrorail’s Gauteng region Tembela Kulu said in a statement.

“The average age of our rolling stock and signalling equipment is around 60 years, thereby placing a heavy maintenance and operational burden on Metrorail.”

This was an inconvenience to travellers, especially during peak travel times.

Kulu said Metrorail was working around-the-clock on repairs and maintenance so train services could return to full operation.

“It is very difficult to operate a train service when our signalling is not functional, as this puts the lives of our passengers at risk. In this regard we are able to take advantage of our emergency plans which enable us to switch to manual authorisation. However, this process is painfully slow.”

Commuters were asked to take note of announcements at various stations and on Commuter FM.

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