Rail station battle continues

2019-08-13 06:00
On 13 July a pedestrian’s wrangled body was removed from the train tracks.

On 13 July a pedestrian’s wrangled body was removed from the train tracks.

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A total of four fatal incidents have taken place on the railway tracks between Heathfield and Retreat stations since the beginning of the year and ward 72 councillor, Kevin Southgate, is calling for intervention.

He elaborates on his urgent request to the railway service provider: “The unreliability of the Metrorail train service has given rise to illegal taxi operations at Heathfield station, which has raised the ire of the local residents. This has resulted in passengers disembarking from the Cape Flats line and walking to Retreat station. Since there is no fencing from the level crossing in the direction of Retreat station, commuters now walk along the tracks instead of using the road.”

He adds: “There is a section where the canal emerges from below the tracks and so the only way for people to pass over is by walking right next to the tracks.”

Southgate feels that both the western and eastern sides of the track should have been fenced off to the public, but as it stands only the western side has been fenced off; still allowing for the public to enter the tracks.

After continuous attempts to have it fenced off, still, there is no action intended to be taken by Metrorail.

“Our response remains that the purpose of railway fencing is primarily to demarcate boundaries and that most fencing (even palisades) will not deter wilful entry,” said Riana Scott, marketing and communication manager at Metrorail.

According to Scott, Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) tends to maintenance, repairs or installation of fencing annually in terms of urgency or necessity, and implemented according to available funding. Southgate, however, feels that as the fourth accident in the same vicinity, fencing the track is a matter of necessity. “This is now the fourth accident within a year, not to mention the arson attacks on trains parked off at the siding,” he says.

While this particular concern is not a priority for Prasa currently, Scott advises the public not to place themselves in danger and rather use authorised crossings to reach their destinations.

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