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Western Cape Metro suspends central line services

11 December 2017 - 09:48 By Aron Hyman
Metrorail trains. File picture
Metrorail trains. File picture
Image: Antonio Muchave

Metrorail made a surprise announcement on Sunday evening that it has suspended all of its central service trains due to "months of sustained vandalism".

The commuter service suggested that thousands of stranded commuters make "alternative arrangements" on Monday as train tickets would no longer be sold at some of its busiest stations.

Metrorail also announced that it had no buses to offer as alternative transport.

A Metrorail Western Cape statement said that cable theft and destruction of critical infrastructure in Bonteheuwel‚ Netreg and Nyanga were to blame.

Metrorail regional manager Richard Walker said operating conditions had become unbearable.

"Vandals targeted several mini sub-stations‚ cables and back-up batteries over the weekend‚ leaving us no option but to suspend services‚" he said.

"The rate of vandalism simply outstrips the rate of repairs."

As teams of technicians with "armed escorts" head to the problem areas to assess whether recovery will be possible‚ Walker pleaded with law enforcement agencies to respond to their cry for help as a "crime wave" was crippling their service.

"Our call for assistance to law enforcement agencies and communities to help us fight against crime has not yielded the support we had hoped it would and commuters continue to bear the brunt‚" he said.

"Vandalism continues to cripple the provision of reliable and safe rail transport to the communities most reliant on the train service. We can no longer fight the scourge of crime alone and need communities to help us save our trains and stations from criminals."

The "high-level corridor" most targeted by criminals and vandals - who often set trains on fire - has been earmarked for upgrades.

"Unless all stakeholders play their part to create a more conducive environment‚ any effort to provide world-class rail services will be fruitless. We need commuters to take ownership of their new trains and to help bring criminals to book who deny them dignified travel‚" Walker said.

Metrorail is offering a reward of up to R25‚000 for information that leads to convictions. Walker said anonymity was guaranteed.

Rail-related crimes can be reported to Metrorail Protection Services at: 021 449 4336/5056.