Metrorail commuters in Cape Town have been forced to make alternate travel arrangements after the rail operator suspended all central line train services on Monday.
Western Cape Metrorail management took the decision to suspend services on the Chris Hani – Kapteinsklip and Bishop Lavis lines following an act of extreme vandalism at several mini sub-stations, cables and back-up batteries that feed electricity to the signalling system.
“This is a critical safety feature that controls train movement and ensures that trains run without colliding into each other while powering train movement,” the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) said in a statement on Monday.
No train tickets will be sold and stations will be closed until the service is fully restored, which could take weeks.
“The drastic measure comes in the wake of months of sustained vandalism, cable theft and destruction of critical infrastructure in the Bontheuwel – Netreg – Nyanga area reaching a stage where no further service is possible,” Prasa said.
Meanwhile Metrorail regional manager Richard Walker told that a technical team was working to repair the line under armed escort because there were fears that criminals could launch fresh attacks on infrastructure overnight.
Prasa Acting Group CEO Cromet Molepo said it was unfortunate that the organisation is spending millions of rands to repair old infrastructure and further delaying the Modernisation Programme.
“It is unfortunate that while the business has already begun with the critical Modernisation Programme for both rolling stock and infrastructure upgrades of R173 billion and on the eve of launching the new Train Manufacturing Plant we still see such criminality against a community asset.”
Prasa had already earmarked the high-volume corridor for modernisation which would have seen the deployment of the new Metrorail trains in the area similar to the Pretoria to Piennarsport corridor in Gauteng.