Train commuters demand extension of monthly tickets

PRASA regional manager, Richard Walker, addressing the #UniteBehind protesters. Photo by Qhama Mroleli

Prasa has committed to dealing with poor rail services after being pressured by a coalition of civil society organisations under the #UniteBehind hashtag.

#UniteBehind held a protest outside Cape Town train station in support of the coalition’s demand for the extension of monthly tickets to two months when trains are delayed or cancelled.  Dubbed #DelayRepay, #UniteBehind is calling for commuters to be refunded when forced to use taxi or bus alternatives. Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) regional manager, Richard Walker promised train commuters on Thursday that he was going to meet with the board chairperson and the Group CEO and get back to them with regards to the extension of monthly tickets and improving safety on trains.

Addressing the protesters who were staging a sit in at one of the platforms, Walker said that there are plans to deal with the deteriorating situation of rail services in the province. “We have serious infrastructure issues and we have already put in place ways to look at how we expedite the issue of recovering the coaches and bringing them back into service,” he said.

The rail service is supposed to have 88 sets to run at optimal capacity but at the moment they have less than 40 train sets in service.

Protesters staging a sit-in inside the train station. Photo by #UniteBehind
Below is a recording of Sharone Daniels and Mandy-Lynn Mott demanding answers about the extension of monthly tickets and efforts to improve safety on trains from Richard Walker.

Sizeka Gcwanini from Nkanini informal settlement in Khayelitsha told Elitsha that as a train commuter she has seen how the rail service has deteriorated over the years. “There used to be trains every 15 minutes but now it’s every hour. The trains have no glass on the windows. We need security at Nolungile (Site C) and Nonkqubela (Site B) stations because that is where most muggings take place,” she said.

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Meanwhile 21-year-old Mikaila Poole from Elsies River said she stopped using trains because of sexual harrasment on the train.

Walker promised that they will be introducing seven Silver Trains to the central lane. The Japanese manufactured Silver Trains were scrapped around 2015 and they are bigger than other trains. They used to run between Khayelitsha and the city centre.

According to Walker, national government has come up with a rescue plan that has been presented to the board and it will be made public soon.


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