Prasa concedes experiencing challenges as train services resume

The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) has conceded experiencing challenges as train services resume limited operations.

It says the Pienaarspoort station in Pretoria did not have screening equipment but commuters were sanitised.

The agency also resorted to using diesel-powered trains as the overhead cables were stolen on Tuesday night.

This was evident as the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Transport inspected the line between Pienaarspoort and the Pretoria train station in the CBD.

Committee chairperson Mosebenzi Zwane says they are not happy with the service.

“We want to see people, we want to interact with people, we want to check whether they are happy. What are the challenges, how are they seated and that is not what we are seeing now. Maybe when we arrive there we will be able to see those things. I don’t know, but for now I think we are not happy,”adds Zwane.

Western Cape Transport MEC Bonginkosi Madikizela says he is pleased with measures to comply with the COVID-19 protocols on trains.

His statement comes after limited rail services resumed on Wednesday morning for the first time during the lockdown.

Madikizela was on a site visit at Cape Town station where physical distancing, the wearing of face masks and sanitising are being enforced.

Cape Town is running a limited service for the week to test its systems.

Madikizela says he’s however concerned about compliance when full services resume.

“It seems to be going well. You can see inside the train there’s designated areas where people need to stand, the sitting capacity is also done such that people comply. The challenge off course is when we operate at full capacity.”

“But there’s a plan that Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) has presented, which also takes into cognisance the situation when we operate at full capacity. I have no doubt that we will have some challenges but I’m glad that people understand that this is a new norm,” adds Madikizela.

Meanwhile in Johannesburg, trains are not operating for now.

Metrorail says it will operate a limited train service between Pretoria and Piennarsport from today.

Gauteng Metrorail spokesperson Tony Games says train operations on the Johannesburg and Soweto corridors will resume only when they are satisfied that all health and safety protocols are being adhered to.

“In this corridor, we have decided that we will only allow 486 commuters on board the train. We are [not] going to allow sit ins in between so that there will be social distancing,  including those that will be standing, there is also markings inside the trains.”

“The seats are marked where people will seat and where people will stand there are also markings. We have already appointed platform marshal that will be working at the stations and inside the trains to ensure that commuters adhere to those social distance protocols,”