Just 32 trains left in Cape Town after latest fire destroys carriages, locomotive

A train goes up in flames on Cape Town's northern line on January 25 2020.
A train goes up in flames on Cape Town's northern line on January 25 2020.
Image: Esa Alexander

Cape Town's depleted fleet of trains went from 33 to 32 on Saturday when six carriages and a motor coach went up in flames.

The train caught fire between Kentemade and Century City stations, said City of Cape Town fire and rescue spokesperson Jermaine Carelse.

The train had no passengers on board and no injuries were reported, but the fire was a fresh blow to a commuter rail service that has lost dozens of trains to arson attacks.

Firefighting efforts had to wait for the electricity to be cut to overhead power lines after a train caught fire between Kentemade and Century City stations, in Cape Town, on January 25 2020.
Firefighting efforts had to wait for the electricity to be cut to overhead power lines after a train caught fire between Kentemade and Century City stations, in Cape Town, on January 25 2020.
Image: Esa Alexander

Speaking in Cape Town on Thursday, Passenger Rail Agency of SA administrator Bongisizwe Mpondo said the city had about a third of the trains it needed to run an adequate service.

Services had been suspended on the city's central line, he said, because the remaining rolling stock could not be risked on a line where live cables dangle across the tracks and where a train is vulnerable to armed criminals if it breaks down.

A crowd gathered to watch flames consuming a train between Kentemade and Century City stations, in Cape Town, on January 25 2020.
A crowd gathered to watch flames consuming a train between Kentemade and Century City stations, in Cape Town, on January 25 2020.
Image: Esa Alexander

Mpondo said that would all change by September. Over the next nine months, Prasa would begin the rollout of a three-phase plan to stabilise the operator, secure the line and resume a limited service on the central line.

A full service would only be operational by April next year, when 10 of Prasa's new and “more robust” trains would be run on the line as a pilot.

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