The Central train line was up and running yesterday morning, Wednesday February 21, after being out of service for more than a month.
This brought to an end weeks of misery for thousands of commuters who had to find alternate modes of transport, putting massive strain on bus and taxi services.
According to a Metrorail statement, trains will run every hour from 5am to 8pm from Cape Town to Chris Hani and Kapteinsklip stations.
Metrorail’s regional manager, Richard Walker, said 88 additional armed security guards and two armoured vehicles have been deployed to patrol day and night, to enable technical teams to repair vital equipment and prevent further attacks on the rail infrastructure.
“The suspension of the Central service confirmed that Cape Town cannot function effectively without rail,” he said.
He thanked commuters for their patience and understanding.
“While our customers were extremely frustrated by the suspension of their service they also understood the importance of ensuring that when trains start to operate again they would be safe for use,” he said.
The move has been cautiously welcomed by the Public Transport Voice (PTV). Their spokesman, Dalton Ndongeni, called for a safety and security plan to protect commuters. He said some trains are still without windows and that endangers commuters’ lives.
“We thought while the service was suspended, Metrorail would sort out the safety plan for our people. However, we are happy that trains are trickling in. We have also seen the damage caused on the track. It is really bad and we condemn that,” he said.
The Central line was suspended after a guard was shot dead at Chris Hani station in Khayelitsha on January 9. Staff on the line refused to return to work after this and the line was also hit by vandalism.
Meanwhile, the mother of a 19-year-old man who jumped to his death from a moving train between Lakeside and False Bay last month has decided to tackle the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) and its subsidiary Metrorail head-on for the death of her son.
In an affidavit handed in at the Muizenberg police station on Monday February 19, Shamese Abib says the death of her son, Keeno Peterson-Abib, was the direct result of gross criminal negligence of Prasa/Metrorail, a state-owned entity which is mandated to provide a commuter service to the public which is safe and reliable.
Keeno, a Sharedon Park resident, jumped from a moving train on Saturday January 13, to escape four alleged robbers
It has since come to light that the doors of the train were open on the day of the incident which is a criminal offence following a Constitutional Court judgment in 2015 after a young man was attacked and thrown from a moving train.
Ms Abib is being supported by the Rail Commuters Action Group (RCAG) and Unite Behind, a civil society coalition consisting of over 20 organisations which mobilise around common campaigns and struggles.
One of Unite Behind’s current campaigns, Fix Our Trains, is aimed at getting the train service back on track.
Blob: Commuters are encouraged to utilise social media channels, subscribe to receive text alerts or to contact the City of Cape Town’s Traffic Information call centre toll-free service 0800 65 64 63 to ensure they are aware of any last minute changes that may impact their trips.