Train services between Fish Hoek and Simon’s Town have resumed after an absence of almost two years.
Metrorail Western Cape announced the resumption of services between the two stations on Wednesday January 5. But less than 24 hours later, the service was suspended again due to sand on the tracks.
Acting Metrorail spokesperson Nana Zenani said services had only been suspended for a few hours while the sand was cleared.
Sand on the tracks between the two stations has long been a thorn in the side of far south commuters who are forced to use alternative transport.
The line is problematic due to its proximity to the sea, and it is no stranger to the impact of high tides and buffeting coastal winds (“Solution to clear sand from the tracks in the pipeline,” Echo, February 2018).
Ms Zenani said Metrorail staff would continue to keep the tracks clear of sand and do repairs in the area if needed.
Train services between Retreat and Fish Hoek were also restored just in time for Christmas, on Monday December 21, after being suspended in October due to vandalism.
Ms Zenani said four mast poles and overhead electrical lines were damaged after an 11 kilovolt line at the False Bay section of the line was cut.
Metrorail’s yellow-and-grey trains are running on the line during peak hours, from 5.35am to 7.42pm, with the new Electric Multiple Unit (EMU) blue trains being tested off-peak.
On Friday, January 7, the mayoral committee member for urban mobility, Rob Quintas, took a ride from Cape Town CBD to Simon’s Town on the new EMU blue train.
“The air-conditioned and new carriages would be the envy of any local public rail system in the developed or developing world,” he said.
According to Ms Zenani, the EMU train has self-propelled carriages. Like the old yellow-and-grey trains, it runs on electricity but does not need a locomotive or power car (locomotives pull freight trains and power cars pull passenger trains) as electric traction motors are built into one or a number of the carriages.
“EMUs are popular on commuter and suburban rail networks around the world due to their fast acceleration and pollution-free operation,” she said.
However, Fisk Hoek station marks the end of the line for the EMU blue train as it is still in its testing phase. Ms Zenani said the Rail Safety Regulator had not given Metrorail permission to use the new trains on that line.
This means commuters travelling to Simon’s Town have to change trains at Fish Hoek.
Ms Zenani said repairs between Retreat, Fish Hoek and Glencairn stations amounted to R4.5 million and included fixing mast poles, at Glencairn station, that had been damaged or toppled by high winds.
Mr Quintas said he had noted evidence of vandalism at various stations as well as inadequate fencing along most of the route.
There were no immediate plans to roll out the MyCiTi service in the far south as the area was served by the Golden Arrow Bus Service and minibus-taxis, but the City was ready to help the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) keep sand off the tracks.