Threat to stop train services

Metrorail may suspend its KwaZulu-Natal train services if vandalism and assaults on staff members continued unabated.

Metrorail may suspend its KwaZulu-Natal train services if vandalism and assaults on staff members continued unabated.

This was said by Metrorail regional manager Sisa Mtwa at a media briefing in Durban yesterday.

"The suspension of services would be a last resort," Mtwa said.

He said a train was burnt in March, six trains were stoned in June, and four other coaches were burnt.

Mtwa said it cost R2 million to replace each burnt coach.

Metrorail said stoning incidents had also increased. In the latest incident on October 17, five train drivers were assaulted, seven trains were damaged and 450 windows broken.

"We condemn these atrocious acts. When our staff are being assaulted and our trains damaged, there will come a point when we will suspend the service."

He said the worst affected areas were KwaMashu and Umlazi, which carry 80 percent of Metrorail's passengers.

Logan Moodley, a representative of the eThekwini transport authority, said any disruption of the rail system would have a knock-on effect on other transport systems.

Blessing Zungu, chairman of the KZN Commuters Forum, said the government was placing too much focus on the Gautrain instead of improving local train services.

He said commuters used trains because they were cheaper and appealed to the government to improve the rail service.

"Eskom cannot even afford to supply trains with enough electricity.

"We are appealing to the government to create extra power generators because there is a shortage of power supply."

Mtwa said Metrorail was committed to improving services. Police had made a commitment to stop the vandalism on trains, he said, adding that if efforts to minimise train destruction failed, the service would be suspended.

Princess Maseko, a train commuter, said she was concerned about the pending suspension of rail services.

"I have three sons who use the train to school. I also use the train to commute to work. If I do not go to work, I will not get paid," she said. - Sapa

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