Metrorail Western Cape

Metrorail Western Cape is a network of commuter and suburban rail services in the City of Cape Town Metropolitan Municipality (metropolitan area of Cape Town) and in the surrounding towns of Malmesbury, Paarl, Stellenbosch and Wellington in the Western Cape province of South Africa.

Metrorail Western Cape Region
A Metrorail train pulling out of Kalk Bay station.
A Metrorail train pulling out of Kalk Bay station.
Area servedCity of Cape Town, Stellenbosch, Drakenstein and Swartland
LocaleCape Metropole and surroundings
Transit typeCommuter rail
Number of lines4
Number of stations122 (97 have ticket offices)
Daily ridership500,000 (2018)[1]
Chief executiveRichard Walker
CharacterSuburban railway
Number of vehicles85 trainsets (1094 coaches)
System length460 km (290 mi)
Track gauge1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in)
Electrification3 kV DC overhead catenary
Top speed90 km/h (56 mph)
System map

It is operated by Metrorail, which operates commuter rail services in the major cities of South Africa. The network is fairly comprehensive, however, some key areas have no service, notably the Atlantic Seaboard, Western Seaboard and Durbanville.

There are 85 operational trainsets, made up of 1094[2] coaches. There are 671 scheduled trains per weekday, operating over 460 kilometres (290 mi) of the track to 122 stations and 4 halts.[3] In 2018 there were around 500,000 daily users of the service. The services are divided into three areas, each of which has various branches.

All services either commence or terminate at the main Cape Town station in the centre of the city, which has 24 platforms. All services are by electric multiple units, aside from the daily train to Malmesbury which is on a non-electrified line.

Routes Edit

Southern Line Edit

The Southern Line travels from central Cape town through the Southern Suburbs to Muizenberg, and then along the edge of False Bay to Simon's Town. Although Simon's Town is the southern terminus, many trains terminate at Fish Hoek because the line south is single-track.

Cape Flats Line Edit

The Cape Flats Line travels east from Cape Town as far as Maitland, then turns south through Athlone, rejoining the Southern Line at Heathfield. The service terminates at the Retreat.

Central Line Edit

The Central Line serves areas to the southeast of the city centre. Trains run from Cape Town to Langa on two different routes, one around the southern side and the other around the eastern side of Pinelands. From Langa they travel on one of three lines, going either to Mitchell's Plain, to Khayelitsha, or through Belhar to Bellville.

Northern Line Edit

The Northern Line serves the northern suburbs of Cape Town as well as some outlying towns. Some trains travel from Cape Town station to Bellville along the old main line through Salt River, Maitland, Goodwood and Parow, while others travel along the relief main line via Century City. After Bellville, trains run on one of three routes: through Kraaifontein and Paarl to Wellington; via Kuils River and Stellenbosch to Muldersvlei; or Kuils River and Somerset West to Strand.

Two "Business Express" trains provide a luxury commuter service, travelling from the suburbs to Cape Town in the morning and the reverse in the afternoon. One train runs from Huguenot (Paarl) via Kraaifontein and Brackenfell to Cape Town, while the other runs from Strand via Somerset West and Kuils River to Cape Town.

There are also two longer-distance trains stopping at all stations en route daily. One along the main line to Worcester and at 174 km (108 mi) the longest possible route on a commuter train in South Africa. The other is the only diesel-hauled commuter train in the Western Cape to Malmesbury which travels 78 km (48 mi) on the route to Bitterfontein.

Operation Edit

A train approaching Simon's Town station

Frequencies can vary vastly from weekday peaks to weekend-off peaks. Services to Simon's Town, Bellville via Century City, Strand, Muldersvlei (via Stellenbosch) and Wellington are less frequent over weekends with a train about every hour on Saturdays and every two hours on a Sunday. In contrast, weekday frequencies on some lines offer three-minute headways.

First-class MetroPlus coaches are always on the side closest to Cape Town.[4]

Every train displays a four-digit train number. The route and destination of a specific train can be determined by just looking at the train number. Up trains travel towards Cape Town and carry even train numbers, down trains travel away from Cape Town and carry odd train numbers. Destinations can be derived from the following table:[3]

Train no. Route Notes Length
01xx Simonstown ↔ Cape Town Some trains terminate at Fish Hoek. Also see next entry 36 km
02xx Simonstown ↔ Cape Town Afternoon peak 36 km
05xx Retreat ↔ Cape Town Via Cape Flats line 24 km
23xx Eersterivier ↔ Cape Town Some weekend trains terminate at Faure 34 km
25xx Kraaifontein ↔ Cape Town 31 km
28xx Bellville ↔ Cape Town Via Monte Vista and Century City 21 km
32xx Strand ↔ Cape Town 53 km
34xx Muldersvlei ↔ Cape Town Via Stellenbosch 61 km
35xx Wellington ↔ Cape Town Includes service to Worcester (174 km) 72 km
90xx Bellville ↔ Cape Town Via Lavistown (through Ysterplaat) 28 km
95xx Kapteinsklip ↔ Cape Town Via Salt River, some terminations at Nyanga 32 km
99xx Chris Hani ↔ Cape Town Via Ysterplaat 38 km

Infrastructure and rolling stock Edit

Western Cape Metrorail train station hall
  • 1095 carriages
  • 489 kilometres (304 mi) of track
  • 119 stations
  • 10,400 hectares (26,000 acres) rail reserve
  • 320 kilometres (200 mi) of fencing
  • 610 kilometres (380 mi) of track (including yards)
  • 96 bridges
  • 19 foot bridges
  • 380 culverts
  • 9 kilometres (5.6 mi) of sea walls
  • 830 track points
  • 1600 signals
  • 1800 track circuits
  • 32 relay rooms
  • 1500 apparatus cases
  • 3 520 block joints
  • 610 turn outs
  • 560 yards

Incidents Edit

  • 13 November 2006 - A train hit a truck stalled on an unprotected level crossing. The truck was carrying at least 33 farmworkers; nineteen were killed and six were injured.
  • 25 August 2010 - A train hit a minibus taxi that had allegedly driven around the boom barriers on a level crossing. The minibus was carrying fourteen schoolchildren, of whom ten were killed.
  • 20 October 2015 - Western Cape Metrorail reported this morning that four motor coaches and six carriages were destroyed in a fire in the early hours of Tuesday.
  • 15 April 2016 - Trains set alight at Woodstock and Kraaifontein.
  • July 2016 - Robbery and murder of train driver at Netreg Station.
  • 7 August 2016 - Two Metrorail trains caught alight and burned at the Retreat Station in Cape Town on Sunday afternoon.
  • 1 December 2016 - Metrorail has had yet another one of its trains damaged. This time one was set alight at Thornton Station late on Thursday evening.
  • 12 June 2017 - Two trains were gutted by fire at Cape Town station.
  • 20 November 2017 - Train set alight Century City
  • 27 April 2018 - A train hit a bakkie, killing all 7 people on board. This incident happened in the same place where the 2010 minibus incident occurred, i.e. Blackheath level crossing.
  • 22 May 2018 - 4 carriages were burnt
  • 30 May 2018 - 2 carriages were set alight - one person was killed and three injured.
  • 18 June 2018 - 3 train carriages were burnt on the Southern line. The fire began mid-afternoon at Steenberg Station.[5]
  • 24 June 2018 - "At about 19:20 on the 24th June 2018 City Fire and Rescue Services responded in Radu Road in Philippi where three railway carriages were alight"
  • 21 July 2018 - Seven coaches, as well as two motor coaches and five trailers were destroyed by a fire. "The estimated cost of the damaged coaches is approximately R30m."[6]
  • 26 July 2018 - Five carriages, and overhead power cables were damaged at Retreat Station.[7]
  • 21 April 2019 - Two trains were set on fire at Cape Town station.[8]

References Edit

  1. ^ "#TrainArson: Significant drop in Metrorail passenger numbers". 31 July 2018. Retrieved 7 November 2019.
  2. ^ The number of carriages currently is 1094 (according to Rolling Stock a number of wrecks were refurbished as part of the refurbishment programme and at least three complete train-sets were re-allocated from other regions since 2006). The total includes carriages currently being overhauled at contractors
  3. ^ a b "Fare Calculator". Metrorail Western Cape. 1 April 2012. Retrieved 20 June 2012.
  4. ^ "Travel Information" (PDF). Metrorail Western Cape. 22 February 2011. Retrieved 20 June 2012.
  5. ^ Pitt, Christina (18 June 2018). "Three railway coaches set alight at a Cape Town train station". News24. Retrieved 7 August 2019.
  6. ^ "R30m damage caused by Cape Town train fire".
  7. ^ "Another Metrorail train on fire in Cape Town, bringing the number of incidents to five".
  8. ^ "Two trains on fire at Cape Town train station". SABC News - Breaking news, special reports, world, business, sport coverage of all South African current events. Africa's news leader. 21 April 2019. Retrieved 21 April 2019.

External links Edit