Cable theft, vandalism a major problem for rail industry

Railway regulator says vandalism and theft of assets account for more than 60% of security related incident.

FILE: Fire and smoke damage at Cape Town Station following an incident of arson in April 2016. Picture: Aletta Harrison/EWN.

CAPE TOWN - The Railway Safety Regulator says cable theft and vandalism continue to be a major problem plaguing the country's rail industry.

The 2015/16 annual state of safety report was released in Cape Town yesterday.

The document provides an overview of the safety performance of South Africa's rail sector, covering derailments, collisions and level crossing incidents among others.

Railway Safety Regulator CEO Nkululeko Poya says vandalism and theft of assets account for more than 60% of security related incidents experienced by the rail system across the country.

He adds the rapid rail police must continue to work very closely with the Saps to combat these issues.

"The impact of the theft of a cable might be small, but the impact operationally on safety activities is massive. That is what we see even in the Western Cape, that has an impact on the operational efficiency of the business because most people use train in these parts of the world."

The report shows nationwide theft and vandalism of rail infrastructure cost more than R92 million during the 2015/2016 financial year compared to over R73 million during the previous year.

In the Western Cape, Metrorail's services continue to be hampered by cable theft and vandalism costing the rail service millions.