Temporary buses replace rail service

Disruptions on the southern line continue, with buses from the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa’s (PRASA) Autopax division ferrying passengers between Fish Hoek and Simon’s Town.

Spokesperson for Metrorail, Prasa’s commuter rail service, Riana Scott, said the small fleet of Autopax buses are being used to replace the rail service between Fish Hoek and Simon’s Town.

Asked how long these buses would operate and what was being done to repair the tracks, Ms Scott replied: “The recommissioning of the railway line depends on two issues: compliance with national environmental and coastal management requirements and an operating permit from the Rail Safety Regulator. The first process is well-advanced and as soon as it is complete, the RSR will be requested to inspect the line, to lift its operating prohibition to allow trains to operate on the section of track.”

As things stand at the moment, Metrorail cannot operate on the current track.

The False Bay Echo asked whether the new trains would be able to run on the current tracks, or would new tracks need to be laid for the upgraded trains.

Ms Scott replied: “It stands to reason that new technology needs to be supported by complementary infrastructure. Prasa’s 20 year modernisation programme therefore comprises: new trains, new depots and maintenance technology, modern signalling and train control systems and modern stations. This includes: integrated ticketing and speed-gates and modern telecommunications.”

A False Bay Echo reader noted that “sand on the tracks” has consistently been offered as the reason by Metrorail for the inactive line, which has been out of commission for a number of months.

The resident, out of curiosity, walked the length of the line and found no sand, but did report seeing rusted tracks, and wanted an explanation from Metrorail.

Ms Scott replied: “The rust on the tracks is entirely natural given the proximity to the beach and the fact that trains are not operating on that section. The sand comes and goes as it is blown onto and from the tracks. The sand had already been cleared in preparation for the recommissioning of the line. Given that all the requisite permissions are received, we will be able to start test trains within the next few weeks in preparation for full restoration of service,” she said.

Ms Scott said that Metrorail representatives had recently met with members of the Simon’s Town Civic Association and the Naval Museum to explain the process to restore the train service.