DA wants answers from Metrorail about railway line safety

The scene of the train accident at Elandsfontein Railway Station. Photograph: ER24

The DA says it is concerned about the level of policing at railway lines to prevent vandalism such as cable theft.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng said on Friday that it would be seeking answers about the extent to which Metrorail passenger railway lines were being patrolled by the police.

This comes after two Metrorail trains collided on Thursday morning at Elandsfontein, east of Johannesburg, leaving one person dead and 102 passengers injured.

Metrorails has since blamed stolen cables for the collision, saying that the trains were being manually authorised between Olifantsfontein and Elandsfontein due to theft of signalling power cables at the time of the accident.

DA spokesperson for community safety in Gauteng, Michelle Clarke, said in a statement the DA was concerned about the extent to which railway lines were policed to prevent vandalism such as cable theft.

“I will submit questions to the MEC for Community Safety in Gauteng, Sizakele Nkosi-Malabane, in the Gauteng Legislature to determine the extent to which our railway lines are being patrolled by the South African Police Service (SAPS),” Clarke said.

“South Africans who must commute by train have no choice but to place their lives in danger to get to their jobs or look for work. It is an injustice that they must face grave danger on a daily basis because they cannot afford to use safer modes of transport.”

Clarke said the Metrorail service was highly vulnerable to criminal activity as the railway lines were open, and therefore needed to be patrolled.

“The DA is concerned about whether the SAPS and Metrorail have a memorandum of understanding in terms of who is responsible for what aspects of commuter safety and security of rail stock.”

“Aside from the ghastly risk that cable theft poses in terms of commuter safety, it further results in chronic train delays which make it very difficult for people to get to their jobs or look for work. Effective railway policing will go a long way in preventing this debilitating vandalism.”

Metrorail said on Friday that they were still investigating the circumstances and the identity of the male person who died in the accident since he was inside an empty train that was not in service.

Metrorail’s appointed technical team is also continuing to work around the clock with external service providers to recover normal train operations.

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