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Friday Sep 28, 2012

30 ways Cape Metrorail service is 'better'

A drop in the number of trains cancelled, beefed-up security, 24-hour maintenance and a more punctual service are among 30 improvements Metrorail says it has achieved.

The improvements have been welcomed by a commuter advocacy grouping, although it cautions that safety issues remain a serious concern.

Western Cape regional manager Mthuthuzeli Swartz said 30 improvements had been made since the launch in June of a programme to tackle problems in the deteriorating service.

Major improvements included:

  • Replacement of all broken windows and train doors.

  • Platform marshals at eight main stations.

  • Increasing the speed at which trains travel. Revised working hours. Special employee task teams. Better revenue collection. The additon of three trains.

  • The introduction of a mobile information system.

  • The installation of fences at all stations and beside railway lines.

    Willie van Rooy, deputy chairman of the United Commuters Voice, said the improvements had been noticeable.

    "There are still problems regarding the safety of commuters. We have to hold more public meetings with commuters to educate them on personal safety," he said.

    Swartz acknowledged that security was a "grave concern". He said Metrorail had increased the number of security guards by 100 - from 569 - in a bid to curb crime at stations.

    "We also have the assistance of 400 railway police officers and that of 100 SANDF members. Safety is our biggest concern and more than R10 million a month is spent on security services," he said.

    Overcrowding on trains was a major problem.

    "Three additional trains were added to the service, which brings the number of trains to 88. We also have a shuttle service operating between Nyanga and Cape Town station to reduce overcrowding on trains in that area," Swartz said.

    Two trains each were located at depots in Kraaifontein, Nyanga and Retreat for emergencies, he said.

    Asked how vandalism would be addressed, Swartz said: "We are still in talks with the City of Cape Town to link our CCTV [closed-circuit television] footage to their operational centre. We have also deployed more security officers to hot spots like Lavistown and Heideveld station."

    Swartz said R2.6 billion would be spent over the next three years on upgrading 28 stations and buying a fleet of modern trains. Heideveld, Nyanga, Mitchells Plain, Chris Hani, Cape Town, Bellville and Woodstock are among the stations in line for upgrades.

    Metrorail plans to introduce space for bicycles on all stations and an integrated electronic ticket system that may be used on MyCiTi and Golden Arrow buses.

    Cape Town

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