Thieves derail train tourism

2008-10-09 00:00

Spoornet have confirmed that they have had to suspend operations on the Richmond/

Pietermaritzburg line after scrap metal thieves dismantled the track.

A total of 580 sleepers and their rail clips and locks, of an estimated value of R180 000, have been plundered from the line.

Spokesman Selby Dlamini said yesterday in response to questions posed by The Witness that the situation has rendered the line unsafe to run trains, hence the decision to close it.

The future of the line will only be decided after a thorough risk assessment to be conducted on October 15 and 16. Said Dlamini: “It is our belief that the stolen rail components are sold as scrap”.

He said Transnet Freight Rail have implemented initiatives to combat theft on the line. “In addition to the normal weekly patrols by our own security staff, we also circulate the list of stolen items to local scrap metal dealers for their assistance.”

He said they have also solicited the support of the Non Ferrous Metals Crime Combating Committee.

Regarding the concerns of the Umgeni Steam Railway that their operations are being negatively affected by the closure of the train line, and thus also tourism in the area, Dlamini said: “[W]e hope that the operators … appreciate that our decision to suspend operations on the Richmond/

Pietermaritzburg line is to avoid possible loss of lives and damage to assets.”

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