First Gauteng train to operate delayed after cables vandalised

The first train to operate in Gauteng delayed by thieves
The first train to operate in Gauteng delayed by thieves
Image: Antonio Muchave/Sowetan

The very first train to operate in Gauteng during the national lockdown was delayed after overhead cables were vandalized.

The train, which was scheduled to depart from Pienaarspoort in Mamelodi at 5.10am headed to Pretoria station had to wait for technicians to clear the line which were left hanging by the thieves on eve of the reopening of the services. Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) administrator Bongisizwe Mpondo said the train got delayed by about 45 to 50 minutes as technicians cleared the line to prevent any possible danger.

Mpondo said since the beginning of train service on Wednesday morning, security was the biggest problem to be address.

“We really have to continue improving security. It is an issue that we are going to have to keep on working on…,” Mpondo said.

Trains resumed for the first time since the beginning lockdown in Gauteng, Eastern Cape and Western Cape. Along the Gauteng line, Prasa was forced to use diesel powered locomotives as the rail line had been severely vandalized over the three months that the trains were not operating. At the train stations commuters maintained social distancing and were all wearing masks as Prasa required.The turnout of passenger was not high which enabled Prasa, the parent company of Metrorail to easily implement all the safety measures to prevent Covid-19 infections.

At the end of each journey, cleaners disinfected the train quickly before passengers were allowed in.The cleaners disinfected the train focusing on parts of the floor, door handles, seats and hand rails which are surfaces that are commonly frequently touched by passengers. In the three provinces, trains operate between 5am and 9am and also between 3pm and 7pm. All the trains operate at 15% capacity or less.

Today’s reopening of service was watched closely by the portfolio committee on transport in Parliament. In Gauteng, committee chairperson Mosebenzi Zwane led the team which observed the implementation of the lockdown regulations. There are other members of the committee who have been deployed in the other two provinces to monitor the measures that Prasa has deployed to protect commuters from the risk of Covid-19 infections.

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