Free newspaper for Metrorail passengers has been launched to fast-track safety awareness

Staff Reporter

Staff Reporter

In an effort to curb crime, the reckless youth cult of "train surfing" and other hindrances to Metrorail's safety record, the service's operator South African Rail Commuter Corporation (SARCC) has launched a free newspaper for passengers titled Hambanathi.

SARCC chief executive Lucky Montana told state news agency BuaNews that Hambanathi would be "an effective platform to accelerate rail safety".

Montana urged commuters to help SARCC deal with people who commit crimes on trains through Hambanathi.

Every year SARCC spends almost R20million dealing with arson, vandalism and theft of rail assets.

Non-ferrous metal theft, in particular overhead traction and signal cables, train doors and other valuable train and signalling components, exposes Metrorail's passengers to unacceptably high safety, security and punctuality risks.

Montana said Hambanathi is one of several safety initiatives, including the establishment of the South African Railway Police Service Unit, that are starting to show some positive results.

He cited the introduction of rail police in Cape Town, which had already resulted in a reduction in crime-related incidents.

"We are still on track to have more than 5000 rail police in time for the 2010 Soccer World Cup, to further augment the existing Metrorail security officials that have been deployed in all regions to consistently respond to safety issues," he said.

SARCC does not provide figures on how many deaths and serious injuries have resulted from the reckless sport of train surfing. But it is believed to be at least one serious case a week.

During Youth Month SARCC will join the national Transport Department, the presidency, the National Youth Commission and the Congress of South African Students in launching a joint initiative on rail safety targeting the school-going youth.