Three Cape Town trains set on fire in coordinated attacks

28 September 2018 - 16:10 By Aron Hyman
A fireman tackles the burning train at Cape Town station
A fireman tackles the burning train at Cape Town station
Image: Peter Savage

Cape Town’s commuter rail system came under full assault on Friday‚ with three trains simultaneously set alight.

Firefighters battled to contain a train fire in the city’s central station as thick black smoke hindered their ability to get close.

At the same time in Firgrove‚ near Somerset West‚ another train was set alight. Rail services to Wellington were cancelled after a train was set on fire in Mbekweni‚ near Paarl.

City of Cape Town fire and rescue services spokesperson Theo Layne said the cause of the fires was undetermined.

The remains of the train that was set on fire in Firgrove, near Somerset West on September 28 2018
The remains of the train that was set on fire in Firgrove, near Somerset West on September 28 2018
Image: City of Cape Town

He said no injuries had been reported in the Firgrove and Cape Town incidents.

Before Friday’s fires‚ Metrorail was down to 42 trains of the 88 it needs to operate its Cape Town commuter timetable. Arson attacks so far this year have cost R93-million.

Activist group #UniteBehind has called on the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) to allow the use of September monthly tickets in October‚ due to the poor train service caused by a shortage of rolling stock‚ and is planning a mass protest for Thursday October 4.

Spokesman Matthew Hirsch said the commuter rail system should be declared a national disaster so that funds could be released to tackle its problems.


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