More Metrorail delays after delayed Cape Town trains torched

2017-06-13 12:29
Firefighters attending to a fire at the Cape Town Station. (Austil Mathebula, News24)

Firefighters attending to a fire at the Cape Town Station. (Austil Mathebula, News24)

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Cape Town – Train commuters were on Tuesday stuck with further delays on all routes after eight train carriages were set alight at Cape Town station.

In a service alert on its Twitter account, Metrorail said residual delays of "60+" minutes were being experienced in the region.

Two trains (eight carriages) were set alight and shops looted on Monday night, when commuters went on the rampage in reaction to lengthy delays.

Platforms 15 and 16 remained closed, while officials assess the damage.

Metrorail confirmed that several shops had been trashed and looted in the mayhem on Monday evening. Access gates were destroyed.

Police officers and rail protection services had to disperse crowds. One suspect, according to Metrorail, was apprehended. However, Western Cape police spokesperson Sergeant Noloyiso Rwexana said no one had yet been arrested.

ALSO READ: Commuters rebel as Metrorail fails

Regional Metrorail manager Richard Walker apologised to affected customers, but condemned the destruction of property.

"We acknowledge that commuters have legitimate service concerns but we can never condone criminality."

He said their reduced capacity would be further depleted.

The delays on Monday night were the result of defective 11kV electrical feeds.

Between 14:00 and 20:00, two of the four feeds had not functioned, overloading the remaining two feeds and tripping electricity. This halted trains all over the network.

Some trains were delayed by more than two hours.

Trains on the Monte Vista line and to the southern suburbs also eventually could not operate. 

Walker said technicians managed to restore power feeds at 20:52 and trains started to operate. 

The torching occurred minutes later.

'Action must be taken'

The United National Transport Union (UNTU) demanded that Walker resign immediately.

General secretary Steve Harris said Metrorail did not warn commuters about the problem with the feed for hours.

This led to commuters agitated as queues grew longer, with some attacking staff and property.

Some even went looking for the train drivers and ticket control officers in their rest rooms.

"UNTU has repeatedly warned Prasa that this situation is a tragedy waiting to happen. Action must be taken now before more innocent people die," Harris said.

The union felt Walker had not created a safe working environment for its employees.

Harris said they had applied to the Western Cape High Court to force the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) to implement reasonable safe measures to protect staff.

A date has not yet been set for the application to be heard.

Harris will write a letter to Prasa to set out their demand for Walker to resign.

Commuters in possession of monthly and weekly tickets could use Golden Arrow buses between 08:00 and 16:00.


WATCH: Cape Town station in ruin after overnight fires, looting

Read more on:    metrorail  |  cape town  |  transport

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