Aziz Hartley

FOUR people suffered smoke inhalation and four carriages of a Metrorail train were gutted as it pulled into Woodstock station yesterday afternoon.

“They were treated for smoke inhalation and taken to hospital. The carriages were severely damaged – everything burnt out,” said Cape Town Fire and Rescue Service spokesman Theo Layne.

“We sincerely regret that people were injured,” Metrorail regional manager Mthuthuzeli Swartz said.

The train was on its way to Cape Town.

EMS spokesman Darren Francis said they took two women and a man to hospitals in the city while ER24 transported the other patient, believed to be a woman.

Their conditions were not serious, he said.

Firefighters battled for about an hour to extinguish the fire while hundreds of commuters were left stranded as the train service on the Woodstock line was stopped.

Swartz said an investigation had been launched into the cause of the fire, which would cost Metrorail millions.

“I don’t want to give a figure, but it would cost no less than R12 million,” he said when asked what the damages were.

The loss of four coaches would have some effect on Metrorail’s service, but everything would be done to minimise the impact on commuters, Swartz said.

Trains serving Khayelitsha, Mitchells Plain and Monte Vista were re-routed via Esplanade station while the train service to Simon’s Town and Bellville was resumed about two hours after the fire broke out at 4pm.

Bukeka Ningi, a commuter who travels from Woodstock to Philippi, said: “They (Metrorail) must learn to communicate quicker. I was worried how I would get home. I’m fine now that I can go to Esplanade. I only travel by train, I have a ticket and no money for a bus.”

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