Train fire causes delays in Cape Town

2018-07-06 12:09
A train fire has delayed services in Cape Town. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

A train fire has delayed services in Cape Town. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Metrorail technicians have repaired overhead equipment after a "snag" resulted in a fire on a train carriage at the Woodstock station on Friday.

"Shortly after 07:30 this morning, one of our train carriages snagged the overhead wires - what we commonly referred to as a pantograph hook-up," Riana Scott, Metrorail Western Cape spokesperson, told News24.

City of Cape Town fire services spokesperson Theo Layne said  the "small fire" on top of one carriage was extinguished after technicians isolated the mechanism which makes contact with the electric wire and powers the train.

When firefighters arrived at 7:25, the train had already been evacuated.

No one was injured, Layne said.

Trains on the Cape Flats line were affected, with Metrorail reporting delays of more than an hour on the line because of the fire.

"The snagging caused smoke and electrical sparks, and fire services were requested to extinguish the flames. The overhead equipment suffered minor damage and our technicians are currently on-site doing repairs," said Scott.

Metrorail said that trains would operate between Koeberg and Retreat, with commuters having to make their own way to the Cape Town CBD from Koeberg.

Problems in Kraaifontein, Bellville

A pantograph hook-up at Kraaifontein was also resolved, but there are residual delays of between 40 to 50 minutes, said Metrorail.

A pantograph is an apparatus mounted on the roof of a train which conveys electrical current through contact with overhead wires.

Defective points at Bellville also caused the cancellation of one train.

Scott said that the effect of the fire in Woodstock was cleared before the afternoon peak hour.

"Trains are being rerouted until this section is cleared and our normal train traffic can resume."

The line was cleared at 11:30.

Metrorail has between 50 and 54 active train sets to operate a timetable designed for 84, resulting in delays.

"We are trying our utmost to keep as many sets as possible functional but given age and obsolescence it is a challenge," Scott said.

New trains for the network are expected by 2019 and a budget of R172bn had been allocated to deliver trains over a 20-year period.

In addition, the operator made significant inroads in battling vandalism which has a severe impact on services.

"Incidents of cable theft and vandalism have declined drastically in high incidence areas as the rate of arrests and convictions increase," Scott added.

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