Cape Town - It was another nightmare for commuters on Tuesday as train chaos saw thousands of people struggle to find their way home.
Metrorail operated a limited service for the third day in a row after vandals stole 500 signal cables, used to track trains on the lines to prevent overlapping.
And the rail company has warned that the service will be affected for the next “few weeks”.
For commuters, it was another morning of delays, of up to two hours, and roads were jammed as people opted to drive to work instead.
During rush hour on Tuesday evening, the train stations were largely empty, while the bus terminus and taxi rank in Cape Town were heaving with people.
The queues for buses snaked up Strand Street all the way to Adderley Street, only slowly inching forward.
The latest vandalism is a huge setback for the rail operator, which is still recovering from a spate of attacks earlier this year where several carriages were burnt and important infrastructure damaged.
Spokesperson Riana Scott says they’ve suffered damages worth millions of rands and warned it could take six to 18 months for the service to go back to normal.
She urged commuters to regularly check train schedules to plan their journeys and to make use of alternative transport where possible.
“For the next few weeks, there is very little that we can do to change the situation,” she said.
“We must distinguish between arsoned assets (hundreds of millions of rands) and cable theft/vandalism (hundreds of thousands of rands) - determining the cost of damage depend on many variables ie severity of damage, original state of the asset, etc.
“We report four to five minor incidents of vandalism daily. This most recent incident damaged three areas where signal cables converge, which is why the effect was so significant.
“Completely gutted carriages will take six to 18 months before being back in service.”
Scott said shuttle services are available to commuters, who can use their train tickets to board Golden Arrow and Prasa buses on some routes, but only outside peak hours.
She said all lines are being monitored.
“Section managers monitored services on Tuesday. Good progress has been made by the technical teams and they are now in the final testing phase,” added Scott.