From the news desk

Metrorail forced to slash 40 peak-hour trips

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Metrorail said it could take up to a year and a half before rail services are back to normal, but in the meantime, it is trying to make travelling less painful for commuters.

The railway agency has had to cancel 40 peak hour trains trips in Cape Town, and has listed them on social media so that people can make alternative arrangements during those times.

Metrorail said it was forced to cancel these trips after a number of vandalism and arson attacks earlier this year.

For months Metrorail has been struggling to keep up with demand, which has led to lengthy delays and protest action by trade unions.

To date the carrier said they have lost R139 million as a result of damages to its infrastructure.

Earlier this week, Metrorail posted about 40 trips that had been withdrawn from the morning and afternoon service.

The Northern Line is most affected, with about 25 trains removed. This is followed by the Southern Line with 12 trains.

Metrorail spokesperson Riana Scott said it was important to note that these are not new or additional cancellations, but trains that have been cancelled daily due to arson attacks.

She said the trains will be kept off its timetable until new trains are available again.Scott said currently they are looking at a year and six months before all trains return to service.

“Efforts to resuscitate the region’s spare fleet continue unabated and pressure on service providers to refurbish burnt trains remains top of agenda,” she said.

“As we receive train-sets, we will be re-instating trips and informing customers accordingly.

“Variable daily cancellations due to in-service malfunctions and routine maintenance will be communicated daily, for this reason service updates are posted on social media, sent by SMS to registered users and announced at stations.”

The attacks on Metrorail’s trains escalated in April this year just before a strike by workers, over working conditions and safety.

In April, two trains at Cape Town Station were set alight and 10 carriages, as well as signalling equipment, destroyed.

The issue of safety for both commuters and train drivers made headlines last week when driver, Pieter Botha, 46, was gunned down during a robbery at Netreg station, while waiting for a train.

Two men have been arrested for the murder.

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