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Ongoing load shedding undermining Prasa’s ability to keep commuter trains running, says Western Cape MEC Daylin Mitchell

As part of the government's 'rail revolution', R51 billion has been committed to buying 600 new trains this year.

As part of the government's 'rail revolution', R51 billion has been committed to buying 600 new trains this year.

Published Mar 9, 2022

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Cape Town - The Western Cape member of the executive council for transport and public works, Daylin Mitchell, has called on the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) and the national department of transport to do whatever is necessary to protect commuter rail assets.

Mitchell said the ongoing load shedding by power utility Eskom was undermining Prasa’s ability to keep its commuter train services running.

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This comes after train service Metrorail announced on Tuesday it would suspend services across all its lines in Cape Town due to the rolling blackouts.

Metrorail said the Eskom Tafelbaai substation feeding its substations was failing to come back into service. This, it said, had caused a wide-spread malfunction of Metrorail substations feeding power to move trains which run on electricity.

Mitchell said he had been informed of the suspension of services across the metropole.

“I was informed that many rail commuters who are in possession of weekly and monthly tickets were left stranded at stations all over greater Cape Town and surrounding areas because load shedding yesterday [Tuesday] had made train scheduling software unstable,” he said.

“In order to get to where they needed to be, these commuters had to spend time and money to make up for Metrorail’s failure to render a reliable service. The situation continues today [Wednesday].”

While not in denial that load shedding was part of South Africa’s future, Mitchell said he found it hard to believe that a power failure could make the most basic transport system falter so easily.

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He said his department had made, and continued to make, a significant investment in the public transport system.

“I call upon Prasa and the national department of transport to do what is necessary to protect the massive national investment in our commuter rail assets so that commuters can once again rely on railways getting them to work, to school and to amenities on time,” Mitchell said.

He added that commuters should not have to keep paying for the continuous failures of state-owned entities.

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On Wednesday, Eskom announced the implementation of Stage 4 load shedding after it experienced more breakdowns at its generation units.

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