Video: Courtney Africa / African News Agency (ANA)

WATCH: 'Train late as usual' as trial run begins in Cape Town

By IOL reporter Time of article published Jul 1, 2020

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Cape Town – While Western Cape Transport MEC Bonginkosi Madikizela was pleased with measures to comply with Covid-19 protocols on trains as a limited service resumed this morning, for commuters it was as if nothing had changed – the train was as late as usual.

Metrorail is running a limited service between Cape Town and Retreat until Friday to test its systems after three months of inactivity, with only single tickets being sold. However, Madikizela is concerned about compliance when an increased service begins next week.

In line with the regulations, only a 30 to 50% capacity is permitted and every carriage has separate entry and exit doors to adhere to physical distancing requirements. 

On her train journey from Salt River, a commuter told the African News Agency this morning: "I expected the train to be on time because they had ample time to trial run the trains. 

"It was late at Wynberg train station because I checked the time tables last night. For a month at least I have been at work on time but now all of sudden I am late because of the train so there is no change (from before).

"Safety wise it seems okay. We are the only two people in the carriage though and we are a bit scared because there is no security on the train as well because we are two females."

Asked about whether she was happy with the coronavirus safety measures, the commuter said: "I have sanitised at Wynberg but there are less people and I am not trying to touch anything though."

Picture: Courtney Africa / African News Agency (ANA)

Madikizela told the SABC: “It seems to be going well. You can see inside the train there's designated areas where people need to stand; the seating capacity is also done in such a way that people comply. 

"The challenge off course is when we operate at full capacity, but there's a plan that Prasa has presented, which also takes into cognisance of the situation when we operate at full capacity. 

"I have no doubt that we will have some challenges but I'm glad that people understand that this is a new norm.”

Metrorail said a gradual service resumption starts on Monday morning. A limited service operates from 5am to 9pm from Monday to Saturday, with no service on Sundays. 

At Cape Town station trains will depart from and arrive at platforms 1 to 3. A total of 26 trains will operate during peaks – the morning peak (5am to 9am) and the afternoon (3pm to 7pm) peak. 

Seven inbound morning trains operate at 30-minute intervals from Retreat to Cape Town station and five trains outbound from Cape Town to Retreat station. 

In the afternoon, seven trains will depart from Cape Town station and six from Retreat to Cape Town station. The off-peak period (9am to 3pm) will be serviced by 12 trains. It is anticipated that each trip will accommodate 350 to 400 commuters.

Trains will stop at 13 stations initially: Cape Town, Woodstock, Salt River, Observatory, Mowbray, Rondebosch, Claremont, Kenilworth, Wynberg, Plumstead, Diep River, Heathfield and Retreat. Five smaller stations (Rosebank, Newlands, Harfield Road, Wittebome and Steurhof) remain closed until further notice.

Only weekly tickets are sold for use during peak hours to limit personal contact and exposure. Commuters are encouraged to buy weekly tickets in advance on Thursdays/Fridays for the coming week.

A limited number of weekly tickets are on sale at the various stations to ensure equity at each station. 

Single tickets will be sold and accepted during off-peak perioids (9am to 2.30pm). No monthly tickets will be on sale until further notice.

"Journey times will be longer than before until all infrastructural limitations are resolved and turnaround times at end/terminal stations will be extended to sanitise a train set before its return trip. Trains will also be cleaned and disinfected overnight," Metrorail said.

"Trains will stop in section for short periods for operational reasons and is not a cause for alarm. All trains will be tracked to ensure they proceed as soon as possible."


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