Metrorail in recovery mode after vandals cripple embattled rail service in Cape Town

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The fibre optic cables were vandalised. These are telecom lines with no copper whatsoever, Metrorail says. (Supplied)
The fibre optic cables were vandalised. These are telecom lines with no copper whatsoever, Metrorail says. (Supplied)
  • Metrorail operations are currently working on an afternoon schedule in Cape Town after fibre optic cables were vandalised.
  • Operations were cancelled as it would have caused an "unsafe operating environment" affecting communication between trains and train control officers, it says.
  • The rail service provider has warned of "residual delays".

Metrorail teams have started recovery operations in Cape Town after fibre optic cables were vandalised which resulted in the cancellation of services.

"The lines were vandalised but they are telecom lines with no copper whatsoever," said its acting spokesperson, Nana Zenani.

"The vandalism smacks of economic sabotage on the very lines where Metrorail had gained traction in introducing new trains. Metrorail has started introducing new trains on the Cape Flats line and on the Southern line up to Retreat station."

On Monday, the rail service provider said its technical teams had been deployed to investigate the extent of the damage caused by the fibre cuts, while repairs had commenced on Tuesday morning.

READ | Eight arrested, two electrocuted as Gauteng faces electricity crime scourge

"Our security teams are making arrests almost on a daily basis along with joint sting operations to various scrap metal dealerships.

"This, unfortunately, has not deterred prospective criminals from targeting not only our infrastructure, but other entities such as Transnet and City of Cape Town property," Zenani added in a statement.

The damage to the critical fibre optic cables resulted in "major delays in operations", she said.

Services were cancelled as it would have caused an "unsafe operating environment" affecting communication between trains and train control officers, Zenani added.

"The vandalism seems deliberate and aimed disrupting the already limited train services."


By Tuesday afternoon, technical teams started to recover operations, she said.

"Metrorail operations are currently working out an afternoon service but have warned of residual delays to its services."

Real-time updates would be shared on its social media platforms, Zenani added.

READ | 26 suspects in the Western Cape arrested for various crimes, says Metrorail

Meanwhile, an unidentified body was found between Athlone and Crawford stations on Tuesday after the alleged cable thief was electrocuted while reportedly trying to steal live 11kv Metrorail lines. 

"It takes 80 miliamps to stop a human heart.  In this case, the deceased was hit with 1 500 milliamps," Zenani said.

The incident comes a week after the rail service provider had to cancel its services last Monday following cable theft in the same area. 

"The cables had been fixed and switched on in anticipation of services," she added. "Metrorail is urging the public to stay away from its lines and its infrastructure due to the mortal danger they present."

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