Cape Town train commuters were again left fuming on Friday morning as train services were halted due to early morning cable theft. The theft of four meters of cable on the approach to Cape Town Station caused major delays, with some trains were delayed for more than an hour. The 73 core cable regulates all automated signaling to Cape Town Station’s twenty 24 platforms.
“The incident happened at 3am this morning and our technicians rushed to Woodstock and Bay Junction in Culemborg and was able to restore functionality at 6:45am,” said Metrorail spokesperson Rianna Scott.
“During repairs all trains had to be manually and individually authorized to depart and arrive at Cape Town Station’s platforms. 150 trains use Cape Town Station during the morning peak and it takes about two hours to normalize the peak hour train schedule.”
On Monday, arson 19 Metrorail carriages at Salt River’s train depot lef thousands stranded and was the cause of some matriculants arriving late for their examination. Regional manager Richard Walker apologized sincerely to commuters for the latest incident.
“Although a significant portion of the region’s copper communication cables have already been replaced by fiber optics, this particular section is still linked to Transnet Telecommunications copper cables, making it vulnerable to copper thieves”.
Walker said Metrorail Protection Services and the Rapid Rail Unit were on high alert to prevent a recurrence and encouraged the public to immediately report any suspicious activity in the area:
“We offer up to R25 000 reward for any information leading to a successful conviction”. He also appealed to the public to report scrap dealers buying copper without the requisite certificates of origin.
Scott said they realised that commuters have demanding schedules that cannot be swayed by stagnant transport. Fixing the cables that have been damaged and stolen as a result of cable theft is an intricate and costly procedure but their main concern is to get everyone to their desired destination on time.
“The monetary value is of lesser important as 4m cable lost a couple of thousands of rands but the major cost is people arriving late. People cannot arrive late to school and work,” says Scott.
Due to examinations that are in progress at schools, Metrorail have been in contact with the Western Cape Education Department to alert exam centres of the delay.