Home South African Horror Shosholoza Meyl train ride condemned

Horror Shosholoza Meyl train ride condemned


The journey had turned into an ordeal, with many complaints made, including about doors locked “due to safety concerns”.

No drinking water was reportedly available during breakdown as the train was stranded at the derelict Prince Albert Road station. Picture: Zak Benjamin/Supplied

Cape Town – Shosholoza Meyl passengers have complained of being stranded at the derelict Prince Albert Road station without explanation.

A Shosholoza Meyl – the long-
distance passenger rail service of the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) – train left Johannesburg on Sunday and was meant to arrive in Cape Town on Monday, but was stuck at Prince Albert Road on Monday night due to locomotive failure.

Chairperson of the United Commuters Voice (UCV) Yvonne Dick said the group was shocked to learn of the “unbearable conditions” experienced aboard the train at Prince Albert Road.

“The situation, according to a UCV member on board the train, was quite dire,” Dick said. The member of the group said the train’s toilets and showers had been locked, and no potable water was available.

Dick said she tried to contact Prasa/Metrorail management but “everyone was on voicemail”.

The journey had turned into an ordeal, with many complaints made, including about doors locked “due to safety concerns”.

“The UCV condemns the ill-treatment of, and violations of passengers’ human rights – whom were being held to ransom by the incompetent Prasa/Metrorail/Shosholoza Meyl
management and its head of departments,” Dick said.

According to standard operating procedure, every long-distance train is supposed to be inspected prior to departure to ensure compliance with health and safety regulations.

On the Trans-Karoo (Johannesburg-Cape Town) route, there are two operational stops, at Kimberley and Beaufort West. Worcester station is used as a back-up station in the event of difficulties occurring.

Shosholoza Meyl spokesperson Daisy Daniel said the train, 71008, had been replenished at Beaufort West ahead of its breakdown at Prince Albert Road.

“Train coaches have modern, hi-tech toilets, which have a strong suction. After a thorough investigation regarding the unavailability of toilets, or rather blocked toilets, the technical team reported that the toilets were blocked by sanitary towels, which are not recommended to be flushed,” Daniel said.

She said the investigation revealed that all showers were not locked, because they posed no health risk to the passengers.

The on-board showers could be locked from the inside. “It is presumed that some customers must have been using the showers to refresh. Even if there is no water on board, the need to lock the shower does not exist.”

Prasa acting chief executive Zwelakhe Mayaba said: “It is with sincere regret that our customers, including senior citizens, had to endure so much anguish after the festive season.”

Mayaba said management had been consulted, to ensure the rail service ran smoothly in future. “I have also requested the Metrorail Western Cape regional manager, Richard Walker, to meet with affected customers at Cape Town station to convey our humble apologies.”


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Cape Argus