Pretoria - Commuters who use the Mabopane to Pretoria railway line will finally get relief as today, after numerous delays, the station and the line will be operational again for trains.
And, Metrorail said yesterday, commuters should not expect the old yellow trains, as new blue trains, dubbed “people’s trains”, would be on the tracks this morning.
People’s trains were first unveiled in 2017 as part of the Passenger Rail Agency of SA’s modernisation programme of railways.
The new trains will carry passengers to the Mabopane, Pretoria North, Mountain View, Hercules and Pretoria train stations.
Last August, Prasa and Metrorail closed the Mabopane railway station and line for refurbishing, and it was later announced that it will be reopened before the end of November, for the resumption of services but that did not materialise.
This with the woes that the railway line, and others across the country, were experienced during lockdown level 5, when train stations were among premises and places closed to the public as part of the restrictions.
The railway station suffered one of the worst vandalism during the harsh level 5 lockdown in 2020, when cables were stolen and the railway infrastructure was stripped of metal and other aspects destroyed.
One of the factors that contributed to the vandalising of infrastructure and cable theft, was the withdrawal of private security companies from service in November 2019, as there was no replacement for them.
This left the station vulnerable to theft and vandalism.
During a Parliament Q&A session last year, Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula told his colleagues that Prasa would be deploying 5 000 guards sourced through private security providers during November to safeguard the railways infrastructure.
He said that other additional measures to improve security at the station was the construction of concrete walls along the identified corridors.
“The wall will be impenetrable, the material to be used will provide extra strength with a height of 4 metres, reinforced with an electric fence.
“Prasa has put in place a detailed recovery plan aimed at rehabilitating and replacing stolen and vandalised infrastructure, including replacement of stolen overhead traction equipment, signalling, substations and stations,” the minister said.
The train stations not being operational affected many, from employees, commuters, businesses operating around the stations and vendors.
Commuters had to use alternative modes of transport while vendors in the Mabopane station had to find new spots to set up their businesses and they said that it was not easy for them.
Their businesses were not doing well and they had hoped the train stations would resume services as soon as possible.
Gauteng Metrorail also announced the resumption of the Pienaarspoort to Pretoria line, effective from this morning.
Other train stations have been operational around Gauteng.