Trains to run again in Pretoria following torching

The South African Rail Commuter Corporation (SARCC) will reintroduce trains on the Mabopane-Pretoria and De Welt-Pretoria lines in two weeks’ time, it announced on Wednesday.

Six Metrorail motor coaches and 18 trailer coaches were destroyed last Friday after they were torched by angry commuters at four stations. The commuters had been kept waiting for two hours due to a power failure.

“The SARCC—which operates Metrorail—arrived at a decision to reintroduce services to the affected lines [from] February 4,” said spokesperson Pule Mabe.

Mabe, who was addressing journalists in Pretoria, said Metrorail will run a reduced service with fewer trains in the Tshwane region. Commuters who have already bought their weekly and monthly tickets will be reimbursed.
Refunds can be obtained at Pretoria station, he said.

Buses will be arranged from Mabopane station to Pretoria North to transport commuters. He would not elaborate on which bus service would transport commuters.

On Tuesday, bus company Putco said that it had not received a request from Metrorail to help transport commuters, but that it had received requests from commuters to step in.

Mabe added that it will take about six months to restore the train lines fully, while security will be “beefed up” at stations.

Referring to the suspension of the Metrorail Tshwane management team, Mabe said that a five-member board of enquiry, appointed on Sunday, is looking into the matter. The board will reach a conclusion after the “intensive investigation” before “the end of February”.

SARCC CEO Lucky Montana suspended the team because “management failed to act swiftly to implement contingency plans” that could have prevented Friday’s train-burning incident.

Mabe said that the inquiry will look into various issues, including the fact that when the first fire broke out, the matter was only reported several hours later.

Meanwhile, the SARCC is also planning to improve communication with passengers. “We are planning more effective communication with commuters ... by conducting imbizos [meetings] starting on Saturday in Kopanong,” said Mabe.

He also said that nobody has come forward with any information that could lead to those responsible for the torching. The reward money of R100 000 is yet to be claimed.

The Democratic Alliance’s James Swart said the public needs to get answers about what led to the torching of the trains.

“We need to know what caused the incident ... to try to avoid anything similar happening in the future,” said Swart in a statement, adding that the government needs to invest in proper maintenance of Metrorail infrastructure within the province.—Sapa

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