Cape Town - Vandalism has forced Metrorail to stop operations on several lines in the province, including the Northern Line, as critical infrastructure has either been stolen or vandalised, Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula says.
He was speaking at a briefing on Monday, after conducting an oversight visit of the Cape Town Northern Line and the Western Cape Rail Management and Traffic Control Centre in Bellville.
Mbalula was joined by the Prasa management, various stakeholders, the City of Cape Town and Provincial Police Commissioner Thembisile Patekile.
The purpose of the visit was to monitor the progress of the station upgrade project.
The station upgrades are part of PRASA’s ongoing efforts to recover vandalized stations, revitalize the rail service and improve customer experience. @WCGovTPW @WesternCapeGov pic.twitter.com/K18SajD817— MEC Daylin Mitchell (@mec_mitchell) January 17, 2022
United Commuters Voice spokesperson João Jardim said that interestingly, the invited few were taken by minibus taxis to several refurbished train stations, whereas just a few metres from the Elsies River station, cables had been stolen and Vasco station bridge remained a crime hot spot.
He said that a few metres from Goodwood Station, a community has taken to living on the railway lines.
The visit come after Prasa embarked on station improvements, in anticipation of service resumption as well as delivering the Annual Performance Plan through the National Station Improvement Project (NSIP).
Mbalula said the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa)’s Western Cape Region operated 121 stations up to Worcester in the North, Simon’s Town on the Southern Line, and Chris Hani and Kapteinsklip stations on the Central Line.
He said operations on all the lines and corridors were monitored from the state-of-the-art Rail Management and Traffic Centre.
Mbalula said the centre also monitored the infrastructure, including signalling, and was able to provide a bird’s eye-view of the entire commuter rail network in the province.
"The Northern Line corridor consists of 34 stations, the Southern Line, including the Cape Flats section, has 38 stations. The Central Line consists of 21 stations and iKapa area has 10 stations," said Mbalula.
He said all 38 stations on the Southern Line were in good operating condition and required only minor maintenance work.
However, there were two stations of concern – Athlone and Maitland stations on the Cape Flats. They would be upgraded as part of the NSIP.
He said most stations on the Northern Line were in fair condition and the corridor had been a focus of Prasa’s station improvement programme.
"Out of 34 stations, five of these had suffered extreme vandalism and are in a bad state of repair. These are Parow, Firgrove, Fisantekraal, Faure and Koelenhof," he said.
He said all 21 stations on the Central Line required extensive upgrades and had been prioritised as part of the Prasa Central Line Presidential Project.
I am satisfied that the infrastructure upgrades are on track to salvage a dilapidated a network that has been brought to its knees by criminal conduct.— FIKILE MBALULA | MR FIX (@MbalulaFikile) January 17, 2022
These upgrades will be reinforced by a security model that relies on tight collaboration with law enforcement… pic.twitter.com/eBNBk3S1UP
Work continues to restore commuter rail services in the Province. To date PRASA has restored services in 5 of the 7 corridors:— FIKILE MBALULA | MR FIX (@MbalulaFikile) January 17, 2022
• The Southern line
On 28 December 2021, we returned to service the Retreat to Fish Hoek service after a 2-months shut down as a result of vandalism. pic.twitter.com/eiABFwmvoA
PRASA had committed to complete upgrades in 39 stations in the current financial year.— FIKILE MBALULA | MR FIX (@MbalulaFikile) January 17, 2022
The Western Cape Region is responsible for 5 of these stations. pic.twitter.com/i2SNv3VoQH
Mbalula said the upgrade at the stations on the Central Line were at various stages of completion, as part of the NSIP which commenced this financial year. They were due for completion in the First Quarter of the 2022/2023 financial year.
He said Prasa had committed to complete upgrades in 39 stations in the current financial year. The Western Cape region was responsible for five of the stations.
"These improvements and upgrades constitute: improvement in security and security features, access and egress and overall appearance of the station, station lighting, passenger information, staff facilities (ticketing offices), passenger shelters, ablution facilities, paintwork, subway and pedestrian bridges improvement and platforms including tact tiles."