Three pedestrians were hit and killed by trains in separate incidents last week as Metrorail came under fire for allegedly under reporting such deaths.
In a strong letter on Thursday last week, rail commuter Lee-Anne Bell, who travels daily between Strand and Cape Town, wrote that in the last three weeks she had seen “numerous people” hit by trains.
She said it shocked her that Metrorail and the media were allegedly downplaying the incidents as “simple deaths” yet the loss of life could be avoided if Metrorail security was doing its job with due diligence.
For example, she said security should ensure that commuters do not ride in-between carriages, pointing out that sometimes these people fell off and were dragged underneath a moving train.
She complained that last week Thursday someone was killed by train number 3227 near Kuilsriver at around 3.10pm.
She said such incidents delayed their arrival home, pointing out that they could get stuck in a train for five hours before arriving at their destination.
Bell said following a recent accident on the tracks, passengers were “kicked off” at Faure train station by Metrorail officials and ordered to find their own transport home.
Western Cape Metrorail regional manager Mthuthuzeli Swart admitted that “frequent rail fatalities are a reality”.
His response came in the wake of three people having been hit and killed by trains last week.
The one incident occurred near Wynberg, another near Kuils River and the third near Langa.
Swart would not answer questions question on the number of people who had been killed since the beginning of the year and how that tallied with figures from last year over the same period.
He said the Rail Safety Regulator (RSR) was the only one entitled to release such statistics.
He said that trains had the right of way on rail tracks and that authorized crossings were provided by way of overhead bridges and subways to ensure that people crossed tracks safely
He said their regular safety awareness campaigns stressed the importance of people taking responsibility for their own safety by using legal means to cross over.
He indicated that the Western Cape trains served areas as far as Worcester, Stellenbosch, Paarl, Simons Town, Chris Hani and Kapteinsklip
He said Metrorail operated more than 655 trains each day and was responsible for 732 000 passenger journeys.
With its 430 permanent security staff, 400 railway police officers and 1000 contract security guards, he said they had “their hands full to protect commuters, employees and safeguard assets”.
He implored the commuters say they should not deliberately compromise their safety by ignoring authorized crossings. – Francis Hweshe