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Cape Chamber of Commerce: Metrorail in desperate need of help

The City of Cape Town is intent on taking over the management of the city's embattled passenger rail service.

FILE: A Metrorail train. Picture: Giovanna Gerbi/Eyewitness News

CAPE TOWN – The City of Cape Town is intent on taking over the management of the city's embattled passenger rail service.

Municipal bosses believe they can deliver a better service than Metrorail and rail operator Prasa.

Chronic delays in services remain a headache for tens of thousands of people who rely on trains every day.

The Cape Chamber of Commerce and industry’s Janine Myburgh says Metrorail is in desperate need of help.

“The first thing to do to prevent the destruction of the infrastructure, Metrorail should welcome the support of the city.

“The city should not be involved in the running of the services but it would a good starting point for a more constructive relationship between the city and Metrorail.”

FALLING PASSENGER RAIL NUMBERS

On Tuesday, the municipality announced that it will ask the national Transport Department to speed up the assignment of rail commuter services to city bosses as it fears the service will collapse.

The city explains that passenger rail numbers in Cape Town have fallen by 30%.

This translates to almost three million fewer rail journeys in the city per month in the 2016/17 financial year compared to the previous financial year.

The city wants the transport department to expedite its national rail policy, which could take up to three years to finalise.

Commuters have been and are still fleeing from passenger rail as they cannot rely on the trains to travel to and from work, according to the city.

It says factors such as commuters’ personal safety and punctuality has been compromised.

The city says that at least one out of every 10 trains (11%) is cancelled on a daily basis.

Metrorail’s data confirms that thousands of commuters have been displaced to road-based transport - be it private vehicles, minibus-taxis or buses - over the past two years.

The city says this could impact the economy, saying that a complete breakdown would be catastrophic for the city, for residents, and commuters who are already subjected to constant peak-hour grid-lock on the congested road network.

Authorities believe it comes at a great cost in terms of the time spent on travelling, household expenditure on transport, environmental degradation due to carbon emissions, and the subsequent impact on the city’s productivity and economy.

The City says Cape Town cannot survive without a fully functional, effective and world-class passenger rail service.

It believes the Mother City’s economic growth could be severely hampered without a fully functional rail service.