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Cape Town - Train commuters were again left in the lurch on Tuesday morning after a broken down train at Cape Town station led to widespread delays.
The T3405 to Muldersvlei, one of the first trains to leave the city in the morning, broke down due to a “faulty train set” shortly before leaving the station. This affected services on the Bellville (via Monte Vista), Central and Cape Flats lines. Speed restrictions on the Southern Line also contributed to delays on Tuesday morning.
Dean Damon, from Athlone, took to Facebook on Tuesday morning to warn commuters of a near total lack of trains travelling towards Cape Town.
He warned that the delays had caused overcrowding on taxis and buses from Athlone.
Anthea Williams from Heathfield complained that the first three city-bound trains that passed since 6.20am had been overcrowded.
The Cape Argus reported on a series of major delays on Metrorail services in recent months.
A train derailment in March left a number of platforms out of service for about two weeks while repairs were being done.
In April, Metrorail’s regional manager Mthuthuzeli Swartz reported that the service experiences more than 200 cases of cable theft a year, resulting in delays. About one in 10 delays and cancellations were caused by these thefts, Swartz said. As a result, Metrorail had embarked on a R4.8 million project to replace copper wiring with fibre-optic cables.
Yesterday, following major delays on the Southern Line from Cape Town station, commuters staged an impromptu picket and demanded answers from Metrorail.
Thuliswa Mlotsha, who has to travel from Khayelitsha to Plumstead via Cape Town for work, joined the picket out of frustration.
She spoke to the Cape Argus this morning.
“All we wanted was answers. But the Metrorail officials refused to engage us. Instead, they got scared, locked up the offices and hid in the bathrooms. Why? We had no intention of being violent, we merely wanted them to explain what the problem was. A lot of us were running late for work, so obviously we were frustrated.”
Police intervened and escorted the picketers through the Strand Street exit at the station. But the group became agitated when one of the officers pushed a woman to the ground, injuring her, Mlotsha reported.
Police spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Andrè Traut said the situation was defused and that no one was arrested.
Zinobulali Mihi, acting spokesman for Metrorail, confirmed the delays on the Southern and Cape Flats line which resulted in the picket.
Ten buses were made available to assist stranded commuters between Plumstead and Muizenberg, and an investigation into “root causes” of the delays is under way.