MPs call on police to prioritise investigations into torching of CT trains

On Friday, three train stations were hit by arsonists once again leaving scores of commuters stranded.

A Metrorail train on fire in Firgrove, Cape Town. Picture: Supplied

CAPE TOWN - Parliament's Transport Portfolio Committee has called on law enforcement agencies to double their efforts and to prioritise investigations into the torching of trains in and around Cape Town.

On Friday, three train stations were hit by arsonists, once again leaving scores of commuters stranded.

Metrorail says it's lost at least 47 coaches in the Western Cape since the start of August.

Transport Portfolio Committee chairperson Dikeledi Magadzi says the committee plans to reschedule its programme so as to invite the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) to Parliament.

It wants Prasa to explain its strategy in dealing with the rail crisis.

She says the burning of trains is not only inconveniencing commuters and putting lives at risk but also adding to increasing traffic volumes.

Meanwhile, the City of Cape Town's JP Smith says that 100 dedicated officers will be deployed to train stations from Monday. Some will be dressed in uniform while others will be dressed in plain clothes.

Activist group #UniteBehind is planning a mass march in Cape Town later this week in protest against ongoing rail attacks.

The group wants the Transport Minister to declare the rail service a national disaster.

METRORAIL LOSING MORE COACHES THAN IT CAN RECOVER

Metrorail is losing more train coaches to fires and vandalism than it can recover them for service.

Eighty-eight train sets are required to meet the commuting demand in the Western Cape but there are less than 40 sets in service.

On Friday, three trains were torched at Cape Town station, Mbekweni in Paarl, and Firgrove near Somerset West.

Metrorail's regional manager Richard Walker says the damages caused by fires and vandalism amounts to more than R100 million.

Walker says his biggest concern is that Metrorail is losing more coaches than it can recover.

“Again we lost motor coaches which are key for us to be able to be able to assemble or configure a set. And I think that is the critical part and obviously, these are not in quick supply and we have to look at how to recover these burned coaches.”

Commuters can expect even more delays.

“Cancellations have obviously increased, we got much more cancellations this morning on the northern line as well as the southern line that was affected.’

(Edited by Thapelo Lekabe)