Train chaos: Dicing with death, and preserving your job...

2016-04-21 06:00
 This carriage was packed when I got on it. By the time my wife and I decided to get off, it was almost empty. PHOTOS: ground up

This carriage was packed when I got on it. By the time my wife and I decided to get off, it was almost empty. PHOTOS: ground up

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As usual, I woke up at 5 am to prepare to catch the 7am train from Nyanga Junction to Salt River via Pinelands.

It’s about a 10 minute walk from my home to the station. My final destination is Rondebosch, which I aim to be at between 8 and 8:30 am.

My wife and I arrived at the train station at 6:45 am and noticed that passengers were restive, jumping from one platform to the other to get into any train going towards Cape Town.

“We are lucky,” I said to my wife, because we only had to wait about 15 minutes. At 7 am we boarded a train. But it only departed at 7:20 am.

And then the train stopped a few metres from the ironically named Netreg [which means “just right” in Afrikaans] station for almost an hour.

The carriage was packed when we got on to it.

Passengers, including school children were stranded. They waited a bit, but eventually got impatient. They forced the doors of the train open and jumped out of the windows and walked to Netreg station.

Eventually I also got off the train. Now, unless you are young, it isn’t easy to get off a train that is not next to a platform. The distance from the door and the ground is breathtaking. I lowered my wife down, and then jumped off. We walked to Netreg station.

By the time my wife and I decided to get off, it was almost empty.

Trains were so full at Netreg that people stood on the back of carriages. Some passengers phoned their work-places to tell them of the delays.

At 9 am we were still at Netreg station, when my wife was supposed to start work at 9 am.

Eventually by 9:30, we got a train heading for Cape Town.

About 500 metres from Salt River station, the train stopped again. At this stage, the passengers knew the routine and disembarked to walk to the station.

The drill. Again I lowered my wife, and we jump off the train.

Some caught taxis to Cape Town.

As far as I could tell, Metrorail hardly refunds commuters.

At about 10:35 am we finally got onto a train headed for Fish Hoek.

I got to work by 11 am. Once my wife got to Fish Hoek she called her boss to come and pick her up.

Too late, she was told, and had to turn around and go home.

I understand that there is a strike on and that carriages were burnt. Today was worse than most days, but train problems a regular problem experience on Metrorail.

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