The city of Cape Town says it will host a rail summit early in the new year, to devise short-term interventions to address the current crisis that rail commuters in the Western Cape face on a daily basis.
The city will meet with role-players from the private sector, business leaders and others who are interested or have been affected.
The city’s Mayoral Committee member for transport and urban development, councilor Bret Herron made use of Metrorail’s northern line earlier today, to experience what conditions are like for commuters who travel between the northern suburbs and Cape Town station.
“The overcrowding, frustration, anxiety and desperation of those who needed to get on the train to get to work were similar to what I personally saw and experienced on my commute on the central line in November,” Herron said.
Herron said, as the train departed from Kraaifontein station, the carriage he was in was packed beyond capacity.
“At one of the stations, I was nearly pushed through the open door as desperate men and women were trying to get onto the train while others were trying to get off. It was harrowing and I may have ended up on the tracks were it not for a young man who pulled me back in.
“Those making use of Metrorail literally have to fight their way in and out of the carriages every day.”
Following today’s experience, Herron, in a statement, said the city could not allow commuters to continue to be subjected to the conditions he experienced and has he called for a rail summit for the city and role-players to work on a crisis plan as a matter of urgency.
Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Janine Myburgh, who accompanied Herron on the commute from Kraaifontein station, said commuters are subjected to trauma every time they get on and off the trains and for that, any effort to improve the rail system must be supported.
The city’s Transport and Urban Development Authority has devised a business plan which stipulates how the city intends to take over Metrorail.
The council approved the plan and agreed that the takeover must happen gradually.