Metrorail fixes warped tracks in Soweto

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Steve Appleton
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Metrorail fixes warped tracks in Soweto

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From The Star website 30 August 2011. ... -1.1126630
Metrorail fixes warped tracks after whistle blows

August 29 2011 at 09:00am


COMMUTER rail operator Metrorail has fixed damaged tracks in Soweto after The Star drew attention to the warped and uneven rails two weeks ago. Commuters welcomed the quick response but said such problems were widespread. They urged Metrorail to assess damage across its network and fix it to avoid a catastrophe.

Concerned Commuters Organisation of SA spokesman Bongani Ntuli said warped and uneven tracks were common. “Rails are damaged all the way from Kliptown to Vereeniging stations and New Canada to Naledi stations. We urge Metrorail to fix them all. “The rail infrastructure is aged, but safety shouldn’t be compromised. Metrorail is aware of other patches with damage; they must fix everything and not wait for things to be reported in the media before they attend to them,” he said.

The damaged tracks between Kliptown and Chiawelo stations were fixed after train drivers and commuters raised concerns, saying their ride had become an “uncomfortable and scary experience”. They said the train would “shake and feels like it’s slithering” on the damaged tracks.

Ntuli said commuters could not be blamed for their fears after 857 passengers were injured in a Soweto train crash in May.

Metrorail insisted at the time that the rails were “safe for use, but at reduced speed”. Drivers said Metrorail had lowered the speed limit on the damaged section from 60km/h to 15km/h “instead of fixing the rails”. There was apparently a problem with the foundation on which the rails are laid.

The Railway Safety Regulator (RSR) inspected the rails after a call from The Star. The regulator “is concerned. The RSR recognises that the line is not in a satisfactory condition,” said RSR safety assurance general manager Letsane Rathaba.

Metrorail spokesman Tony Games said the operator was aware of the problem, which it described as misalignment of the track caused by drainage problems. He said on Friday that workers were on site fixing the damaged rail just a day after the story was published. “Tamping machines were brought in to straighten the lines, and the foundation was strengthened.” Games said Metrorail was assessing tracks and promised that all damage would be fixed.
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