Metrorail has announced that it has been forced to temporarily terminate trains to Khayelitsha from Mandalay station.
In a statement on Tuesday, Metrorail regional manager Richard Walker said the forced termination was due to a joint operation to remove illegal electrical connections between Nolungile and Nonkqubela. This, however, resulted in a backlash from communities and track boxes were set alight and other rail equipment damaged.
He said some households in the formalised X section were illegally supplying electricity to their opposite neighbours in the informal settlement’s RR section.
“The wiring used to supply the electricity is not fit for [that] purpose and dangerous; its electrical current carrying capability is inadequate… [so] the wires burn out easily. These illegal connections are supplied both across and underneath our rail infrastructure, causing havoc with our train service,” he said.
Walker said 396 trains were delayed in October 2015 due to illegal connections; totalling 5 264 minutes of delays.
“The connections are responsible for our electricity shorting out and creating false positive readings. The former causes extensive delays; the latter affects train signals creating dangerous operating conditions.”
‘WE ARE FORCED TO WITHHOLD SERVICES’
Walker said the supply to 10 particular informal dwellings posed great danger to the occupants in surrounding communities.
He said the termination of the train service to Khayelitsha meant that commuters bound for Nolungile, Nonkqubela, Khayelitsha, Kuyasa and Chris Hani would have to find alternative transport from Mandalay Station.
Walker said Metrorail terminated train services to the area after the backlash to protect commuters, employees and railway assets.
“We are forced to withhold services until the situation stabilises, it would be irresponsible to endanger… lives and vital assets,” he said.
Walker said a team comprising of local councillors, Metrorail Protection Services and Business Risk representatives, Eskom representatives, and the SAPS, conducted awareness sessions in preparation and served notice of the intention to remove the connections before technical crews moved in on Tuesday.
He said commuters who required proof of delays for employers could request letters of confirmation at stations or register for the ‘E-mail my boss’ option on the mobi-site www.GoMetroApp.com.
“We continue to monitor the situation closely and will reinstate services as soon as it is deemed safe to do so,” he said. News24