Cape Town’s rail network will soon have new additions thanks to the efforts of the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa alongside the Rail Enforcement Unit. Together these groups have been working hard to prevent further arson, vandalism and cable theft that left our trains down from 88 sets to just 48.
Yesterday, however, officials announced plans to finally add more train sets to the Western Cape’s network before the start of the winter season.
At a briefing on the first 100 days of the Rail Enforcement Unit, Western Cape MEC for Transport and Public Works Donald Grant said, “Our plan is to push for 60 train sets operational end of March, beginning of April”.
The aim is to add the additional set by mid-April as Metrorail needs a minimum of 88 trains sets to provide optimal services to residents of the Mother City.
Until October 2018, when the Rail Enforcement Unit was first introduced, train sets had been vulnerable to and the targets of arson attacks, which have since ceased. Safety concerns still exist, but for the first time in a number of months officially finally feel it is safe to start replacing trains and carriages that were claimed by the arson attacks.
Besides the repercussions of these attacks, commuters have also had to deal with excessive train delays caused by Prasa’s resignalling programme, which is currently only 70% complete and is in the process of replacing a 60-year-old copper cable system with new fibre communication. Cape Town station’s resignalling was completed in December, but resignalling will is yet to begin at Mutual and Bellville stations, although it is scheduled to start soon.
In light of the soon-to-arrive new trains sets, the focus of the briefing on Thursday shifted to the success of the rail unit in its first 100 days. The unit has completed 133 joint operations, made 66 arrests and 517 confiscations and conducted 11 041 searches between October 2018 and January 2019.
Many Capetonians are looking forward to the new trains and are hopeful this will mean better public transport for all and that the Rail Enforcement Unit can continue to keep our commuters and trains safe.