Frustrated Metrorail commuters who are being forced to wait up to two hours for a train to work and home, say the delays are not only time-consuming, but costly and unsafe.
On Tuesday night, the Cape Argus accompanied Fazlin Cassiem, a Metrorail commuter during the week between Ottery and Cape Town stations, to understand the frustrations first-hand. Cassiem has been a loyal Metrorail commuter for more than two decades.
But over the past two weeks, her usually “joyful” train ride home with five of her friends had been “nothing but tiring”.
Cassiem, who lives in Grassy Park, left her workplace in Cape Town at 5.05pm on Tuesday to board the 5.15pm train to Heathfield.
On arrival at the station she learnt that her train had been delayed for the second consecutive day. As she made her way onto the platform, nobody checked the validity of her monthly pass, for which she paid R280.
“They don’t often look at the tickets,” she said as she wiggled her way through the overcrowded passages past boards covered in soot from a previous fire.
Cassiem first stopped at Platform 14, where she usually boards her train, only to discover that the 5.15pm train and the one after that, had been cancelled.
Catching up with her friends who had been waiting at Platform 13, Cassiem was told an announcement had been made informing Heathfield commuters to wait there for a Cape Flats train.
The group waited for about 15 minutes before a train arrived. After a 30-minute wait, the train had still not left.
Their original 5.15pm train, which had earlier been cancelled, was standing next to the platform.
Ten minutes later, that train, now empty, left the station, while Cassiem and her friends were still waiting to depart.
“They don’t tell us anything or give us notification; we have to constantly call them for updates, with no luck.
“I don’t have an option but to use the train. The bus is expensive and uses the Wynberg main road which would be an inconvenience.”
At 6pm the group decided to take another train at Platform 14. The train left the station at 6.15pm.
Cassiem finally made it home at 7pm.
If the trains were running on time, she would have been home an hour earlier.
Diana Dennis, a bank worker, who travels from Paarl to Cape Town every day, said the prolonged train delays had also disrupted her life.
She normally takes the 6.10am train from Huguenot station which arrives in Cape Town at around 7.35am. Since the train delays started, Dennis said she started taking the 5.35am train, which is supposed to arrive in Cape Town at 7am.
But on Monday morning that train, too, was delayed and Dennis arrived at 7.55am.
“Travelling with Metrorail is hectic and unreliable.
“Sometimes even if the train is on time it gets stuck mid-way and you end up being late for work.
“On top of that you still need to queue for letters (for the employers) at the counters,” said Dennis.
On the return journey, Dennis said commuters faced the same difficulties.
Some nights she only arrived at home at 8pm.
“Before leaving the office I often call the Metrorail call centre to find out if there are any delays.
“The agents often say there are no delays, but when you get to the train station you see crowds of people running around from one platform to the next trying to locate the right train because there are no announcements or people to help.
“You see someone familiar with the hope of finding the right train.”
Dennis has a monthly pass, which costs R500.
But she now also has to pay R20 for a taxi to drop her at home.[Source: Cape Argus]