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Metrorail to resume Cape Flats service for first time since level 5 lockdown

Cape Town Metrorail will restart its Cape Flats train service on Monday.
Cape Town Metrorail will restart its Cape Flats train service on Monday.

Metrorail will reopen its Cape Flats train service from Monday. It will be the first time the line has run since the commuter rail service suspended its services at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic in March.

It will become the second Metrorail corridor to be reopened, with the southern line having reopened when South Africa downgraded to lockdown level 3 in June.

Cape Town Metrorail spokesperson Riana Scott said 12 trains would operate on weekdays between 6.16am and 7.30pm, from Heathfield to Cape Town, and 13 trains would operate in the other direction.

She said there would be no weekend service until commuter demand warranted it. Scott said the southern line currently carries between 1,500 and 2,000 commuters a day. Test trips were started this week amid final preparations for the return of commuters such as strict health measures being put in place to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Trains will initially stop at nine stations, namely Cape Town, Woodstock, Salt River, Maitland, Athlone, Lansdowne, Ottery, Southfield  and Heathfield.

Train capacity will be limited to 70% with only that number of tickets being sold per commute. Scott said commuters would have to use designated exits and entries where indicated at stations and in train carriages. To ensure compliance, access to stations and platforms will be monitored by ticket verifiers, marshals and security guards.

“Turnaround times at Cape Town and Heathfield stations will be increased to permit sanitising of trains. Trains are also cleaned and disinfected overnight. Commuters are advised to arrive masked at least 20 minutes earlier to allow for sanitising before buying a ticket and to have the correct fare amount to minimise handling of cash,” she said.

Acting regional manager Raymond Maseko said there was a steady increase of commuters on the southern line and he expected a similar trend on the Cape Flats line.

He said the technical teams were dealing “systematically with the aftermath of the lockdown on the northern route where vandalism, theft and pilfering incidents rocketed during lockdown”.

The other corridor, Metrorail’s central line which serves communities in some of Cape Town’s poorest suburbs, was also stripped bare by vandals and thieves.

Not a single Covid-19 case has been recorded among commuters screened within rail precincts so far

Maseko described commuter behaviour and compliance to the new rules as “excellent”.

“Not a single Covid-19 case has been recorded among commuters screened within rail precincts so far. Our employees will continue to discharge their duties responsibly to maintain the status quo. We encourage our commuters to take personal responsibility to comply,” said Maseko.

Scott said minor adjustments would be made to timetables in line with prevailing operating conditions and to increase predictability and that commuters would be kept informed about this.


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