Ca­ble theft blamed for fa­tal train ac­ci­dent

The Star Early Edition - - FRONT PAGE - TANKISO MAKHETHA tankiso.makhetha@inl.co.za

METRORAIL has blamed ca­ble theft for a crash that led to a man dy­ing when two trains col­lided at Elands­fontein train sta­tion in Ger­mis­ton yes­ter­day.

The crash left 102 peo­ple in­jured, five se­verely.

Gaut­eng Metrorail act­ing provin­cial man­ager Good­man Matampi said that at the time of the ac­ci­dent, the trains were be­ing man­u­ally au­tho­rised be­tween Oli­fants­fontein and Elands­fontein be­cause of the theft of sig­nalling power ca­bles.

“One train was leav­ing the yard and was about to clear the sta­tion when an­other train was com­ing from the Kemp­ton Park side and they col­lided.

“As the first train was chang­ing sides it col­lided with the other train,” he said.

Matampi at­trib­uted the crash squarely to ca­ble theft, adding that the com­muter rail ser­vice has been un­der siege, be­ing tar­geted by thieves.

“The root cause of the col­li­sion is ca­ble theft. We re­ally are un­der siege, and what hap­pened here to­day is a con­se­quence of ca­ble theft,” he said.

“The other thing that is im­por­tant to note is that we have lost one per­son, who has been iden­ti­fied.

“The un­for­tu­nate thing is that he was in a train that was not in ser­vice. He didn’t even have a ticket, he was in the last coach that was hit,” Matampi said.

He ex­plained that the train the de­ceased man oc­cu­pied was clear­ing the last coach to change over to a dif­fer­ent track be­fore the col­li­sion with the sec­ond train.

Asked whether Metrorail could in­di­cate if the pas­sen­ger had been hang­ing from out­side the train when the ac­ci­dent oc­curred, Matampi said that would be sub­ject to in­ves­ti­ga­tions.

“The train that was com­ing off the yard was not in ser­vice – the train was not meant to have pas­sen­gers, so we are in­ves­ti­gat­ing how he got ac­cess to get into a train that was not in ser­vice.

“The other train had pas­sen­gers from Pre­to­ria. In to­tal, one per­son is de­ceased and 102 in­jured. Five sus­tained se­ri­ous in­juries and are at var­i­ous hos­pi­tals in Ekurhu­leni,” he said.

“Ca­ble theft costs Metrorail hun­dreds of mil­lions, and it’s not just about re­place­ment of the ca­bles. In Gaut­eng alone, mil­lions are spent in over­time to pay peo­ple to fix these ca­bles,” he said.

“The rip­ple ef­fect of that is it has an eco­nomic im­pact, these ca­ble thefts, be­cause one train car­ries about 1 800 peo­ple.

“You can mul­ti­ply that by the num­ber of trips a train makes and the busi­nesses that are af­fected. It’s an eco­nomic crime.”

PIC­TURE: BHEKIKHAYA MABASO

OFF-TRACK: The scene where two trains col­lided in Elands­fontein in Ekurhu­leni yes­ter­day morn­ing.

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