METRORAIL says water-logged cables were responsible for multiple breaks in signal communication yesterday afternoon at Cape Town Station. Regional manager Mthuthuzeli Swartz explained that water seeped from a Transtel building into cable joints that operate the communication signals at Cape Town Station: ‘The first cables shorted at 15:21 rendering all signals serving platforms 12 – 24 inoperable. Shortly after that a second set of cables serving platforms 7-12 shorted’.
Without automated signaling, inbound and outbound trains at Cape Town Station had to be manually authorized one by one, causing long delays. ‘One can imagine the intricate task of manually authorizing a total of one hundred and seventy two (172) trains arriving at and departing from Cape Town Station’s twenty four (24) platforms and the associated delays’ says Swartz.
Technicians were immediately on the scene to effect repairs. It is an intricate and time consuming job as each individual cable joint has to be opened, drained and dried before being re-sealed and tested. Full functionality was finally restored at 19:34 and the backlog of trains could be released. ‘Working with water and electricity demands stringent safety precautions and cannot be rushed’, says Swartz.
Metrorail is currently replacing all copper cabling with fiber optics. The regional replacement program forms part of a national multi-million rand project. To date more than 460 km of copper cabling has been replaced by fibre optics. Replacement priority is guided by the condition of existing cabling. The section from Metrorail’s centralized control centre to Phillippi was replaced first; followed by the section from Wynberg Station - Simon’s Town Station. Currently under way is the replacement of cables between the control center near Goodwood and Cape Town Station.
Swartz says similar breakages at Cape Town Station should be a thing of the past by end of June this year when the current phase of the replacement project is complete: ‘Replacing vital infrastructure such as copper cabling forms part of Metrorail’s Operational Effectiveness Plan and will see us migrating from a buy-in service rendered by an external service provider to becoming self-sustaining’.
Swartz apologized for the delays yesterday: ‘We deeply regret that thousands of customers suffered delays as a result. We made every effort to arrange buses to at least assist commuters from outlying areas first’.
Issued by: Marketing & Communication Department
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