All trains cancelled after fires sweep through Cape Town station

The remains of a burnt train at Cape Town station on November 28 2019.
The remains of a burnt train at Cape Town station on November 28 2019.
Image: City of Cape Town

All commuter trains in Cape Town were cancelled on Thursday morning after fires at the city's central station destroyed 18 carriages.

“The entire Cape Town station is closed temporarily and the entire regional train service is suspended until further notice,” said Western Cape Metrorail spokesperson Riana Scott.

“Commuters are advised to find alternative transport and we will update commuters during the course of the day as events unfold.”

City of Cape Town fire service spokesperson Jermaine Carelse said the alarm was raised at 2.20am.

The first crews to arrive found carriages alight at platforms 9 and 10, he said.

“Upon further investigation, fires were found on platforms 12, 13 and 15 and more resources were requested to contain the blaze.

“A number of motor coaches and passenger coaches were destroyed and the fire was extinguished at 4.53am.”

Scott said 18 carriages were destroyed and platforms 9 to 16 were closed.

Carelse said: “No injuries were reported and the scene was handed over to the Passenger Rail Association of South Africa (Prasa).”

Hundreds of thousands of commuters still use Metrorail trains to commute in Cape Town, despite a string of fires, attributed to arsonists, but unsolved. They have left services limping.

Since 2015, 214 train carriages have been set alight in SA in apparent arson attacks. Many of these incidents happened in Cape Town. But who is responsible? What is their motivation? And how has Prasa responded? We try to find out who is turning Cape Town’s railways into a fiery hell.

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