As if the province’s transport woes can’t any worse, the entire Western Cape rail network is temporarily suspended with immediate effect due to Eskom disconnecting traction supply. Its believed the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) owes Eskom millions in unpaid power bills. No trains are operating at present, leaving 289 000 commuters without rail transport this afternoon. In a statement today, PRASA said the cut of traction power is “unprecedented”.
Given the devastating impact of in the Western Cape, urgent discussions between Eskom and PRASA Executives are underway to find a sustainable solution without further impact on commuters.
The loss of power across the region also means that the usual operational alternatives such as electronic/manual authorisation and diesel locomotives are not available leaving 289 000 commuters without rail transport this afternoon.
Metrorail said no trains will be operating for the remainder of Thursday. All stations will be closed and no single/return tickets are being sold.
Trains stuck in sections will be taken to depots and commuters on trains will be assisted to the nearest station.
Metrorail acting regional manager Raymond Maseko appealed to customers to please be patient and to comply with employee instructions:
“Every effort is being made to resolve the issue with our electricity provider to restore services as soon as possible,” he said.
He added that the human impact of the action is substantial.
“On average 590 000 commuters use our trains each weekday to get to work and back.”
Cape Town Mayor Dan Plato urged PRASA to pay its overdue electricity bill to restore Cape Town operations
“The closure of Cape Town train station and others across the Western Cape compromises the safe transport of hundreds of thousands of commuters. The train service is already plagued by sustained vandalism through arson and cable theft,” said Plato.
“The suspension of the service is a further indication that PRASA is unable to successfully run its operations. I urge PRASA to get its house in order and settle its overdue electricity bill with Eskom as a matter of urgency.
It is unacceptable that our commuters continue to bear the brunt of PRASA’s inept running of the service.”