File Picture: David Ritchie/ANA Pictures

JOHANNESBURG - The KwaZulu-Natal Metrorail services would remain suspended as the full extent of the damage to its infrastructure is being assessed, the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) said on Wednesday.

“Preliminary reports however show that Metrorail will not be able to operate for at least four to five days as Metrorail starts to implement its mop-up operations,” PRASA said in a statement. 

Metrorail services were suspended in the province on Tuesday due to the bad weather.

The Metrorail technical team has reported that a total of 17 train sets are stuck outside the operational depots either outside the stations, on the platforms or in between sections. 

“The trains have no power or rail tracks to move them. In addition, station roofs, fences, tracks, electrical substations and signalling have been badly affected. In some instances there is no ground supporting the rail tracks as the ground and steel securing the rail tracks has been washed away,” PRASA said.

The extent of the damage and the time it will take to fix the lines is yet to be determined, however, PRASA, has, as part of its Modernisation Programme, started with the signalling upgrades. 

“PRASA was in the final stages of completing the Pinetown to Durban section which would see 24 kilometres of new rail signalling handed over to Metrorail KwaZulu-Natal to operate in December. 

“Already, PRASA had installed key equipment such as new LED signals, axel counters for train movement, fiber optics for the train communication system to name a few,” PRASA said.  

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A total of R1.3 billion will be invested in signalling upgrades over a five year period in KwaZulu-Natal alone. 

“All this work will have to be re-done along with other extensive repair works on the entire rail lines. 

“In the meantime, Metrorail KwaZulu-Natal remains unable to operate its trains without electricity as well as huge safety concerns as some affected areas have live electrical wires and unstable ground barely holding the rail tracks,” PRASA said.

-BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE