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How Cape Town’s rail system can get back on track

The Passenger Rail Agency (PRASA) has faced criticism from the government, lobby groups, and commuters for several years now over the deteriorating rail service in the Western Cape.

In the past few months, there have been 11 arson attacks on Metrorail trains in Cape Town, leading to damages costing over R90 million. Among the most recent incidents, three trains were set alight in three separate attacks in Cape Town, Mbekweni and Firgrove on 28 September 2018. Every incident causes more delays, putting commuters at risk of losing their jobs and forcing them to seek alternative transport, at a higher cost.

On 26 September 2018, the Western Cape legislature’s standing committee on community safety heard from the SAPS about major lapses in PRASA and Metrorail’s rail safety procedures, including broken CCTV cameras and inadequate firefighting equipment. PRASA has responded to the revelations, but the legislature wants the agency to appear before it.

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EWN reporter (and Metrorail commuter) Monique Mortlock was in London in the month of August, looking at the city’s public transport system.

She found most people either walk, cycle, or use the bus and train service to travel in the city. The London municipality is trying to push this even further so that "80% of all trips are made on foot, by bike or public transport by 2041, which will reduce congestion and improve air quality."

The City of Cape Town is working on a plan to take over management of the rail network, which could see it adopting some of London’s practices, like its integrated transport system.

Lessons from London: How Cape Town could tackle its transport crisis
Can we get on the same track as the city with the oldest underground railway network in the world?
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To view the feature on mobile, click here.