Trains in and out of Johannesburg's Park Station were delayed by up to 90 minutes, Gauteng Metrorail said. File picture: Cindy Waxa

Cape town - A further step towards making train stations in Cape Town safer was taken on Thursday morning after high mast lighting was installed at the Eikenfontein terminal.

The security lighting is a R4 million investment by the Western Cape Department of Transport and Public Works. It is another upgrade on top of a R100m plan to clamp down on crime on and around Metrorail trains by the National Department of Transport.

“We are proud to have completed this second stage of (our) project,” said the Western Cape Transport MEC Donald Grant. “It began last year with the roll-out of scrambler bikes at various stations in the metro.”

Since the deployment of the bike squad and patrols at certain stations there have been four arrests for cable theft, which accounts for 10 percent of Metrorail’s maintenance problems.

He said the partnership between Metrorail and his department was effective, yielding results that were in line with the local government’s objective to provide safe and reliable transport for the Western Cape.

Metrorail regional manager Richard Walker said: “Both the previous and current MEC have a vested interest in improving the safety of train users in the Western Cape.”

A high rate of vandalism at stations led the minister’s office to assist the train company by providing funding to install the lighting.

A provision of three lights per platform fixed onto a high mast light provides sufficient light and visibility.

Walker added that the cost of providing security for rail precincts amounted to R12m each month. “The lighting provided by the department improves visibility and helps commuters and adjoining communities feel less vulnerable at stations.”

Money for nationwide security upgrades was allocated by the national department in the aftermath of the murder of train driver JP du Plessis, who was found stabbed to death in a stationary train outside Hercules station in Pretoria last year.

Management of Passenger Rail Agency of SA, the parent company of Metrorail and United Transport Trade Union, and the SA Railway and Harbour Workers Union met this year to discuss measures to be taken to improve safety.

The R100m was set aside to beef up security through the introduction of armed guards in identified hotspot areas. Helicopter services would also be contracted to enable a rapid response to emergency situations.

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Cape Argus