The Gauteng Metrorail service has increased its train capacity from 30% to 52%, on the Pienaarspoort and Pretoria corridor.
The rail agency re-introduced a reduced train service in Tshwane in July, after a shut down brought about by the Covid-19 lockdown.
Gauteng Metrorail spokesperson Lillian Mofokeng said the rail operator was pleased to announce that it had reviewed and increased its train capacity with immediate effect to 52%, allowing a maximum of 1,161 commuters per train to ensure adherence to the social distancing requirements.
“Initially, only 486 commuters were accommodated onboard per train.”
Mofokeng said this reviewed capacity was in response to the latest revised Level 3 Covid-19 public transport regulations by government which has increased the capacity of commuters in a train to 70% from the initial 30%.
“This increased capacity will also contribute positively in addressing the service demand from commuters on the Pienaarspoort-Pretoria corridor where many commuters were previously turned away due to the initial limited capacity that was allowed per train.”
She said the services would operate only on weekdays, in the morning peak 5am-9am and during afternoon peak 3pm-7pm.
Mofokeng said the trains servicing commuters would also only stop at eight key stations, which were Pienaarspoort, Mamelodi Gardens, Eerste Fabrieke, Denneboom, Silverton, Koedoespoort, Rissik and Pretoria.
“Gauteng Metrorail is at an advanced stage in preparing to resume services of Naledi-Johannesburg and Leralla-Elandsfontein corridors later this month.
“It supports and enforces government’s call for responsible compliance to Covid-19 strict hygiene regulations by all South Africans including commuters and thanks commuters for showing commitment in playing their role in this regard.”
This also comes as repeated cases of vandalism of the network had forced rail agency Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) to use diesel locomotives.
Prasa spokesperson Makhosini Mgitywa said the agency had successfully operated morning and afternoon services, using diesel locomotives along the Pienaarspoort to Pretoria line, since the resumption of limited services in July.
Mgitywa said the use of diesel locomotives meant Metrorail, the urban trains operator, could not use the new trains due to vandalism and theft of the overhead electrical lines.
Often trains on the Pienaarspoort to Pretoria line run late, due to cable theft and hanging wires between Koedoespoort and Eersterust.
Acting provincial manager Jackie Moshe said the hanging wires posed a serious threat to the safety of the infrastructure, personnel, commuters and trains.
Moshe called on commuters to work with Metrorail and police to ensure perpetrators were reported to the authorities.
“We invite the public to play an important role in protecting and preserving public assets belonging to them. Let us stop these criminals who are stealing and vandalising key critical infrastructure that is required to run your trains safely,” she said.
“It cannot be that while the country is desperately trying to improve its public transport system, with government injecting billions to make this a reality, others are determined to undermine this at all cost and inconvenience innocent commuters.”
This article first appeared on Rekord East and was republished with permission.