Long wait for rail repairs

The schematic that Metrorail uses to explain the wait for repairs.

There is an anticipated eight-month wait until the southern train line will be entirely up and running again.

Riana Scott, spokesperson for Metrorail said a local service provider had been appointed to do the repairs and was busy sourcing equipment.

She also quashed rumours that Metrorail were using only foreign service providers to repair their southern line, in particular at the Albertyn and Uxbridge level crossings.

Metrorail’s online blog details the incident and its repair process.

On Saturday January 28, a truck crashed into the boom gates at the Albertyn crossing near False Bay Station.

This caused massive disruptions to the southern line. Part of the damage included the overhead wires, which carry up to 3 000 kilovolts of power. These wires landed on the tracks, sending fault currents through the track-signalling equipment, which in turn caused further damage to the signalling interlocking system in the relay room, housed nearby.

This interlocking system, which regulates all signals which guide the movement of the trains, controls the entire signalling system between False Bay and Kalk Bay.

The reason it is taking so long to repair the damage is because the materials have to be imported from Germany and India.

Metrorail advises that people allow for an extra 20 to 30 minutes of travelling time between Cape Town and Retreat and allow for between 40 to 60 minutes longer if travelling between Retreat and Fish Hoek.

There is still a bus shuttle working between Fish Hoek and Simon’s Town.

The website cautions not to be fooled by optical illusions and warns that trains are often travelling faster than you think and are often closer than you think.

““We do our utmost to provide crossing attendants at the level crossings currently impacted by the reconstruction, and repairs, after a heavy delivery truck decimated our signalling infrastructure,” Ms Scott said.

“Most level crossings do not have suitable facilities – like ablutions or shelter – for attendants. There are Protection Services employees who are temporarily re-assigned to assist,” Ms Scott said.

She explained that trains had right of way at road/rail level crossing intersections as they operate on fixed infrastructure and cannot take evasive action during emergencies.

Further safety measures by Metrorail include that:

* Train drivers are obligated to sound sirens on approach to level cross-

* Trains operate with their head lights on bright;

* Trains currently operate at a reduced speed; and

* Regular awareness drives are held at these level crossings to make users aware of the above.