Prasa on Tuesday put its losses due to arson attacks on its Metrorail trains at R636 million over the past three years. File Image IOL

Parliament - The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) on Tuesday put its losses due to arson attacks on its Metrorail trains at R636 million over the past three years.

Briefing Parliament's portfolio committee on transport, Prasa chief executive Sibusiso Sithole said 71 percent of the arson attacks had taken place in the Western Cape, with losses in the province due to gutted train coaches standing at R451.6 million.

Sithole said the causes for the burning of trains were "multi-faceted" and needed a "multi-pronged approach".

Several strategies were being put in place, he added.

"We are now at the level where proof of concept for a project to look at installing cameras and sensors in trains is going well. This is really going to assist us in identifyng who the perpertrators are," said Sithole.

Prasa said it was working with police and intelligence agencies to understand why trains are being set alight and how to curb the attacks.

The rail agency also wants to improve the efficiency of its internal security.

In addition, Prasa said it was looking at redesigning the seating of trains.

"There's also a move to remove what we call combustible material, especially for seats. Some of the seats can take less than a mintue to burn which consequently means to burn the whole train can actually be quite easy," said Sithole.

In the past few weeks, the Western Cape has been hit hard by arson attacks which have caused major delays for commuters.

African News Agency (ANA)