Commuters using the train lines between Mabopane and Pretoria will continue to wait after the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) again failed to meet its deadline for the resumption of services.
Last month the agency said trains would be back on the line in the second week of January.
City Press on Thursday observed that the newly rebuilt tracks on the line were shimmering in the sun from lack of usage. When this paper contacted the agency for an update, Prasa spokesperson Andiswa Makanda reiterated the statement released last month.
In its December statement the agency said: “Prasa’s technical team is pulling extra hours for the resumption of the much-needed services on the Mabopane corridor in time for peak demand.”
Once again the agency blamed bad weather for missing the deadline.
“We are experiencing delays exacerbated by the heavy rains making it difficult for technical teams to work,” Makanda said.
Makanda would not give out a new deadline, only saying: “An announcement will be made in the coming days.”
Services were shut down on the Mabopane line in August for repairs.
City Press saw that the new tracks were still exposed, with no fencing or signs of the “impenetrable” and “vandal-proof” four-metre tall walls that Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula said were going to be built to protect rail infrastructure.
The Mabopane-Pretoria train corridor was identified with the Cape Town central line as a high-priority presidential project, but only the Cape Town line is operational.
Last week Prasa resumed services between Simon’s Town and Fish Hoek ahead of schedule, opening all 29 stations on the southern line. Train services had been disrupted since the start of the national lockdown in March 2020.
Some users have taken to social media to share their experiences on the refurbished line.
Loreno Davids shared on Twitter: “It’s been a thoroughly enjoyable ride back on the train after a six-month absence. Metrorail, please protect this asset.”
Mbalula replied to Davids’ thread tweeting: “Thanks for sharing your experience. We are working hard as government to get back all the lines in operation again so more people can be at those stations and in trains. We’re happy there is a noticeable change.”