South Africa


Cape Town trains partially back on track after ‘telecommunication challenges’

Cape Town trains partially back on track after ‘telecommunication challenges’
(Photo: Gallo Images / Misha Jordaan)

Cape Town’s rail network moved slowly on Tuesday after a telecommunications problem caused many lines to close on Monday afternoon.

Metrorail said on Tuesday it was partially recovering services following a telecommunications problem that left commuters unable to get trains on certain lines for two days. The rail operator said the problems were caused by a tower that had been blown down by wind last week.

“The tower is located in Table Mountain, owned by Sentech, a government company. This affected the radio telecommunications used by both Transnet and Prasa [Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa, Metrorail’s mother body], said Metrorail on Tuesday afternoon. 

On Monday afternoon, Metrorail sent the following alert to commuters: 

The issues continued on Tuesday across several lines. On Tuesday afternoon, Metrorail said its telecommunications team was on site to repair the tower.

“Our telecommunications team has recovered Area North,” said the rail operator. “Trains in the affected areas are back in service — the current telecommunication challenges are affecting the Salt River and the Wynberg areas.” 

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On Tuesday evening, Metrorail said on Twitter that Northern Line trains were still operating, while trains on the Southern and Cape Flats lines were still suspended due to the telecommunications problems. Only a few trains on the Central Line were running.

In Cape Town, the passenger railway system has been slow to recover since it was forced to close down during the Covid-19 lockdowns. Daily Maverick boarded a train in September 2020, when the rail network reopened to only the Northern Line and Southern Line.

In February 2021, Daily Maverick boarded the first train on the Central Line from Cape Town station to Langa since the line was closed in 2019. By January 2022, train services improved as Prasa moved to increase services, including the new People’s Train.

Daily Maverick reported in March that Prasa had reopened services on the Northern Line, running to stations in Bellville, Goodwood and Elsie’s River. In July, GroundUp reported that a limited service would run between Langa and Bellville, with full resumption of service due to start in November.

Metrorail gave no indication on Tuesday whether the lines affected by the telecommunications problem would operate on Wednesday. DM


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