Pretoria – Despite the train arriving 30 minutes late and a few commuters turned back for not adhering to lockdown regulations, it was smooth sailing at Mabopane train station when rail services resumed yesterday.
Commuters who arrived early to catch the scheduled 5am train had to wait until 5.30am for the ride.
Some took to social media to express their disappointment and others said it was nothing new and that “late coming” was embedded in Metrorail’s DNA.
Security guards had to turn back a few commuters who were not wearing masks. The train station in the north of the city had been closed for almost a year because of vandalism and safety issues.
Yesterday saw the resumption of limited services, much to the delight of some commuters. Also on board was the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa’s (Prasa) chief executive, Nosipho Damasane, Gauteng Metrorail manager Nelson Malefane, senior manager operations Rose Leballo and Mabopane programme manager Refiloe Kunene.
Donning their masks and reflectors, they welcomed the commuters at Mabopane.
The train will only load 70% of its capacity to allow for physical distancing on a first-come first-served basis, and only operates during morning peak hours from 5am to 9am and in the afternoon between 3pm and 7pm. Saulsville will resume operations from November 16.
Metrorail said it was insourcing security to protect assets, staff and commuters. The integrated security plan whereby they work closely with police and communities is also being implemented to address the challenge of theft and vandalism.
Metrorail said one plan to combat crime was to build high walling on their railways on the Pretoria CBD/Mabopane railway corridor as well as using high security technology to combat theft and vandalism.
Also on rail concerns, Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula was in Parliament yesterday discussing criminal elements on rail network infrastructure.
“This act of criminality has not only paralysed the commuter rail system, but has had a devastating impact on the poor. Our commuter rail network infrastructure has been under sustained and unprecedented attack from criminals for some time,” he said.
In January the Railway Safety Regulator threatened to suspend Prasa’s safety permit after four people died and 620 were injured in a train collision in Mountainview, Pretoria, leaving about 1.4 million people stranded.
In 2018, the regulator suspended Prasa’s permit following a similar train collision in Kempton Park that injured more than 300 people.
Prasa appealed to the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria and an order was granted instructing it to comply with safety requirements.