Bus and train services to Khayelitsha and Mitchells Plain suspended

According to Metrorail, 730 metres of catenary wire was stolen between Bonteheuwel and Nyanga causing the grounding of the central line. Photo supplied

Train commuters in Khayelitsha and Mitchells Plain, the Western Cape’s most populous areas, have been forced to find alternative transport after the suspension since Monday of Metrorail’s central line.

The reason provided is cable theft. “The central line is again temporarily grounded due to the theft of more than 730 metres of overhead catenary wire in the Bontheuwel/Nyanga area,” reads the statement issued by Metrorail. This is the latest suspension of services resulting from cable theft. Last week two of the three corridors on the central line had to be suspended due to vandalism of the cable providing power to a substation.

Metrorail spokesperson, Riana Scott, said that the exact cost of the current damage to the catenary wires is not known but that damages in the last 12 months have cost the railway company millions of rands. “Damages for the 12 months amounted to R134.1-million; stolen items to R22.6-million and goods to the value of R4.56-million recovered. The most targeted material proved to be underground signal cable and of this nearly all (93%) was recovered by the teams. The teams recover on average R380,722.72 worth of material every month.”

Commuters on the central line have for years complained about the poor train service with frequent train delays and cancellations. Scott said that these are the result of aged infrastructure.

At the time of publishing, Metrorail was unable to say by when the catenary wire would be replaced but said their technicians would work throughout the weekend to replace the overhead wire.

“Our teams will be working over the weekend to replace the overhead wiring. We will issue a statement as soon as we have an estimated date of resumption,” said Scott. 

Meanwhile, the City of Cape Town could not say when the MyCiti N2 Express bus service will resume after it was suspended in May. Parties to the agreement to provide the bus service could not agree on terms for its extension. The N2 Express is a partnership between the City of Cape Town, Golden Arrow Bus Services, the Congress for Democratic Taxi Association and Route 6 taxi association. The suspension of the bus service has made transport difficult for commuters from Khayelitsha and Mitchells Plain.

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In September, the City of Cape Town said it was looking for an interim operator for the N2 Express, though they have “not discarded the possibility of finding a solution that will see the current shareholders of the N2 Express service recommencing with the operations,” said Felicity Purchase, the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Transport.

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