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1,000km of cables stripped from SA rail network, just this year

Transnet Freight Rail has cancelled 1,190 trains as a direct result of security related incidents. File photo.
Transnet Freight Rail has cancelled 1,190 trains as a direct result of security related incidents. File photo.
Image: Andre Kritzinger

The theft of overhead cables and vandalism of railway property has reached unprecedented levels, says Transnet Freight Rail (TFR), revealing more than 1,000km of copper cable was lost between January and October.

The company has recorded an average of 600 theft and vandalism incidents monthly.

TFR said it is continuing to witness a steep increase in incidents. In the period October 29 to November 10, another 55km of cable was stolen.

The rampant theft and vandalism has a severe effect on freight movements, resulting in the service having to cancel trains daily.

“Year to date, TFR has cancelled 1,190 trains as a direct result of security-related incidents,” it said.

“Many of the incidents take place on high traffic and high volume corridors, moving major bulk commodities for our customers. We have seen a particular spike in incidents in the NorthCor (where we move coal), CapeCor (where we move manganese) and the Central Corridor, which is a junction connecting all of our corridors.

“These lost volumes can never be recouped.

“The incidents range from the theft of copper cable, vandalism of substations, which are crucial to the running of the electrified fleet, theft of wiring and cable from locomotives, theft of wooden rail sleepers and other malicious damage to Transnet property. The damage runs into hundreds of millions of rand.”

TFR, while engaging law enforcement agencies to help it curb the theft, also asked the public to help by contacting the Crime Stop Hotline on 08600 01000.

“The consequences of cable theft are not limited to financial losses but often result in tragedy,” TFR said, adding its security teams are under constant threat.

Last week, the company said, a security officer was ambushed and fatally injured at the Natalspruit depot in Germiston.

TimesLIVE

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