Metrorail trains torched in Pretoria

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Two stationery trains were torched and two others pelted with stones in Pretoria.

Two stationery trains were torched and two others pelted with stones in Pretoria.

JOHANNESBURG - Four people have been arrested after two stationery trains were torched and two others pelted with stones in Pretoria, Metrorail said on Wednesday.

Three coaches from the Metroplus Express and two from the Business Express were burnt to the ground at the Pretoria train station on Tuesday night, said spokeswoman Lillian Mofokeng.

“The five coaches were burned by criminal elements posing as loyal commuters.The cause of the incident is being fully investigated, four suspects were arrested at the scene. The torching of coaches puts more strain on operations more especially on the availability of train sets,” Mofokeng said.

She said “fortunately” no passengers or Metrorail personnel sustained any injuries.

Mofokeng said two separate trains were pelted with stones earlier on Tuesday. Businesses operating at the station and two turnstiles were vandalised.

“At the time of the incident early Tuesday, a train that was to depart to Johannesburg was delayed for approximately 30 minutes. Commuters were kept informed of the delay through the public address system right throughout that period,” said Mofokeng.

She said four people were arrested on the scene and investigations were continuing.

On Tuesday, the passenger train operator announced that it was suspending train services along the Springs, Daveyton and Dunswart corridor as a result of increasing threats aimed at trains, drivers and metro guards.

“The growing unbecoming behaviour of commuters has led to train drivers having to run for their lives afraid of attacks. It is very unfortunate that we have to get to a decision to completely shutdown the service due to the fact that we do not have train drivers that agree to risk their lives while serving people who have no appreciation of the vital role they play,” Metrorail provincial manager, Tembela Kulu.

Kulu revealed that since November last year 67 drivers and security guards had been attacked by commuters at Gauteng train stations.

Transport MEC Ishmael Vadi said he supported the suspension of train services along the Daveyton-Dunswart route.

“The wilful torching and stoning of trains and assault on train drivers must stop immediately, otherwise, Metrorail services will remain suspended,” he warned.

He condemned the violent behaviour and said: “This kind of violence and lawlessness must be condemned in the strongest possible way.”