From the news desk

City official reflects on ‘horrific’ train journey

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The City of Cape Town’s Brett Herron got a first-hand account of the daily commute of thousands of Capetonians who use Metrorail and was left shell-shocked after his experience. On Thursday, Herron took a train from Khayelitsha to Cape Town to see just what Cape Town’s workforce have to endure on a daily basis.

“This is not the first time I took a train, I’ve done it occasionally before as someone who is responsible for transport would do. Metrorail and commuter rail is the most important form of transport in our city. I have often gone on these trips and they are always problematic. There are 27-million passenger trips per month and it’s really deteriorated,” said Herron, the Mayoral Committee Member for Transport and Urban Development.

“The conditions were shocking. I was overwhelmed at the conditions and the indignity that our people are being transported in.”

He arrived at about 5am to board a train from Khayelitsha station, but the train only arrived at about 6am. Coincidently, a commuter was electrocuted when he travelled on top of a train on the Nyanga line.

“The train was so full it was impossible to get on. People put their lives at risk by travelling on top of the train, and hanging onto the outside. People were hanging out the train and sitting on the roof. One of the locals said I should stay behind and then I boarded the second train.’’

He then caught the next train with the help of other commuters.

“I got to the station at about 5am got a train at 6:15am and arrived at 7:45 am, so it ended up being a 3 hour journey. The train moved so slow that a baby could crawl faster. This is the conditions thousands of rail commuter’s face on a daily basis,” says Herron.

When they arrived at Nyanga station, they caught up with the train he tried to board.

”The train was stationary and evacuated, as one of the men I saw earlier claiming on the trains roof was electrocuted and died.’’

The train was then delayed for another 30 minutes, with no announcement from Metrorail officials.

“I was chatting to a man who stood very close to me due to the over crowdedness; he said his journey is 6 hours long every morning. This is almost an entire work day spend traveling day, taking a slow train trip,” he added.

The City intends to take over the management of commuter rail in Cape Town, which is a detailed plan which will take a long time.

“I am worried about the state of this form of transport in the meantime, something needs to be done. I intend on inviting CEO’s of big companies to take the trip and experiences what ordinary people experience daily,” he said.

“I don’t have an immediate solution but we will assist Metrorail to prevent the train operator’s service from collapsing.” VOC

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