Trains are back on their rails at the Cape Town railway station where the first batch of locomotives moved to and from Retreat to Cape Town station for essential travel on Wednesday morning during the three day COVID-19 trial run.
Acting regional manager Raymond Maseko said it is a historically significant event.
“Never in history has the country’s entire train system been forced to shut down for 13 consecutive weeks. The pandemic has pitched us in unchartered waters and if we err it will be on the side of caution for your and our safety,” smiled Maseko.
‘We are excited to welcome back our first customers after lockdown’. ‘Operations will be assessed continuously and any adjustments or changes may be made to improve arrangements where necessary,’ Maseko explained.
He reiterated that all commuters should display mindful behaviour when boarding and exiting carriages.
‘By now none of us are strangers to the new normal of COVID-19’s hygiene control and respiratory hygiene measures’. ‘For all our sakes commuters must support PRASA’s call to be responsible in managing their risk of infection through stringent self-regulation and compliance’.
Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa spokesperson, Makhosini Mgitywa said hygiene is of utmost importance.
“Prasa will prioritise the Covid-19 hygiene protocols which include on-board social distancing on the trains as well as on the platforms, and the mandatory wearing of face masks for all rail passengers in the stations and inside the trains,” said Mgitywa.
Commuters were relieved that even a limited-service has resumed. Ottery resident, Vanessa Jansen said, for the most part, she felt safe but even so, it was less about coronavirus and more about saving pennies.
“It is much cheaper travelling with a train than travelling with a taxi. Taxis fill their vehicles to its capacity whereas in the train at least social distancing is observed,” stated Jansen.
However, Jansen did question how officials would manage to keep up COVID-19 safety protocols should restrictions be eased even further.
“There aren’t many people in the train, so that brings me some solace but I am a bit wary about how monitors will ensure social distancing come the 6th July should more scholar embark on train journeys,” asked Jansen.
Jansen added that commuters were accompanied by a team of four COVID-19 monitors that ensured social distancing was maintained between commuters and that their masks remained in place. Trains are routinely cleaned as passengers exit and enter the carriage.
Inside carriages, there are clear markings on seats to ensure social distancing. There are also yellow distance markers at stations, ticket sale points, and on platforms.