Mamelodi trains soon back on tracks

METRORAIL is planning to reinstate terminated services near Mamelodi, Pretoria, but only after agreeing with the Tshwane Metro Council to relocate troublemakers away from the route.

The rail company stopped the services between Eerste Fabrieke and Pienaarspoort stations after losing about R9million in vandalised rail property. The culprits, according to Metrorail's parent company Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) chief executive Lucky Montana, were residents of the informal settlement Greenview.

Prasa decided to reinstate services yesterday after consulting affected communities, including local councillors and commuters.

Montana said they received numerous calls from parents of pupils and commuters for services to be reinstated.

The operations were terminated last September after trains were hijacked, drivers threatened and commuters refused to buy tickets to board the trains.

Metrorail staff and security guards were also shot at.

He said Greenview residents terrorised Metrorail staff and customers, leading to the termination of services.

"The residents were placed between two stations but did not want to go to either of them to connect their trains.

"They began interfering with our signals, vandalised property, forcing the train to stop so they could board to go to Pretoria," Montana said.

"We started talks with the City of Tshwane on relocation of the Greenview residents.

"Security has been increased at the two stations and we have called for more visible policing to prevent any criminal activities," he said.

"We have already trained 800 security personnel to intensify commuters' safety and we aim to have 3000 in the next year for all our stations," he said.

Montana said that R158million would be spent to upgrade the Pienaarspoort station, which would enable it to accommodate more than one train at a time.

Thabo Morukhuladi, chairperson of the Tshwane Rail Commuter Forum, said he was thrilled by the reopening of the line.

Last week, Metrorail announced fare increases of between 15 and 20percent.

"We have kept our fares fixed for the past six years. Our operating costs increased by 25 to 42percent, hence we had to increase our fares," Montana said.