Copper thieves delay city’s trains
CABLE theft at Metrorail train stations around the city led to trains being delayed by 60 minutes yesterday.
Metrorail spokesperson Riana Scott said several incidents of overnight cable theft at strategic locations such as Mutual, Woodstock and Woltemade affected Metrorail’s central train traffic control centre from where trains are tracked electronically.
She said due to the absence of automated tracking, train movement defaulted to a safe but manual process of authorisation yesterday, leading to delays of 60 minutes in the worst-affected areas.
Platforms five and six at Cape Town Station were also temporarily affected.
Regional manager at Metrorail, Richard Walker, said: “Metrorail already operates at reduced capacity due to old rolling stock and obsolete infrastructure – any additional incidents of vandalism have the real probability of bringing the system to its knees.
“Despite daily occurrences of cable theft or vandalism and more than 20 arrests since July this year, no significant shift in crime patterns have been detected,” said Walker.
“We continue to arrest culprits, yet the train service remains compromised and our commuters continue to suffer inconvenience as criminals seemingly continue to flourish with a ready market for secondhand copper.
“Cable theft remains the single biggest contributor to unreliable and unpredictable service, the sooner authorities clamp down on supply (thieves) and demand (scrap dealers), the sooner the train service can be stabilised,” he said.
Due to ongoing vandalism at Khayelitsha and Chris Hani to train carriages, only two of four rail tracks were operating. Walker said Metrorail’s reliability and availability in area central will continue to suffer until vandals are stopped in their tracks.
Walker warned that the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa’s (Prasa) modernisation programme in the province is likely to be jeopardised unless concerted efforts are made to curtail vandalism of state assets.
Technical teams were on site immediately to do temporary repairs to maintain mobility until full recovery of the train service during off-peak.
‘We continue to arrest culprits, yet the train service remains compromised’