Vandalism on trains is 'beyond our call of duty' - Prasa

Addressing vandalism on trains is "beyond our call of duty", Passenger Rail Agency South Africa (Prasa) spokesperson Nana Zenani said.

"When somebody decides that they are going to come and cut the cables and steal rail clips that hold the rail lines to the ground, it goes beyond our call of duty especially when our own people are then attacked in the process," she told News24 at a manufacturing plant site in the City of Ekurhuleni.

She was speaking ahead of President Cyril Ramaphosa's official launch of the multibillion-rand train manufacturing plant in Nigel, Gauteng on Thursday.

The plant is scheduled to deliver two new trains by December 2018, an additional nine by March 2019 and an estimated 56 trains over the next two years.

According to Metrorail a total of 32 coaches were damaged in July as a direct result of arson attacks and 118 were damaged between 2015 and 2017, News 24 reported.

Graphic: 32 train coaches damaged by arson in July alone - Metrorail

"You cannot deter a criminal from doing and acting out what they are thinking. Our job is to operate trains safely and efficiently," Zenani added.

Trains are a long-term solution

Prasa says that the new trains are a long-term solution.

"They are a long-term solution in fixing passenger rail overall. We are not building a new train from scratch, we have to operate the current trains for the next 15 years while we introduce the new trains," Zenani explained.

In order for the new trains to be introduced, the rail agency will have to upgrade the current infrastructure.

Prasa has appealed to the public to report vandalism.

"Without that reporting system, anybody can come in and do whatever they want to the trains and then you lose trains quicker than we are able to replace them. The system then collapses," Zenani said.

Ramaphosa was expected to deliver the key note address at the launch on Thursday afternoon.

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