Cape Town - Trains that were disrupted by vandals on the central line in Cape Town are expected to be back in service on Monday.

Thousands of commuters had to scramble to find other ways to get to work after 16 track boxes and 48 signals were destroyed last week.

Services suspended on the Khayelitsha and Mitchells Plain lines were expected to be reinstated on Monday.

Metrorail said it could not afford to carry on paying to repair damage caused by vandals.

Vandalism and theft account for about a tenth of the delays on the operator’s ailing rail tracks and cost the company about R382 million over three years.

Regional manager Richard Walker said the butchering of multi-core cables on Wednesday led to the closure of 11 stations and suspension of services for Nyanga, Kapteinsklip and Khayelitsha.

Thousands of commuters had to find alternative transport and a labour lawyer told the Cape Argus last week some workers had lost their jobs because of repeated latecoming as a result of the train chaos.

Walker said in a press release on Sunday: “The money should be directed towards improving safety, reliability and punctuality.

“Technical teams had to inspect an area of 18km to assess the damage at 20 locations before tackling the time-consuming task of intricate repairs.”

Walker said the cost of constant and recurring acts of vandalism amounted to millions and remained one of the biggest threats to operating a safe and punctual train service.

“In the last three months we have replaced more than 539 train windows at a cost of R2.6m.”

During the same period, more than 120 carriages were vandalised and stripped of cabling that cost more than R3m.

“We have had a very positive response from communities to date and encourage more civic-minded individuals to come forward with information that can help the police to put these criminals behind bars,” said Walker.

Cable and window replacement took two to six weeks, and repairs to equipment, carriage interiors and metal components took six to 12 weeks.

A R50 000 reward for information securing a conviction has been made available

On Friday, another four signal cables were destroyed by vandals.

Walker said he hoped the introduction of CCTV cameras would help in the fight against vandalism.

Cape Argus