WATCH: ‘People’s Train’ makes the people walk on launch day
A 33-minute delay on the day of the Naledi line launch was enough for commuters to cut their losses.
Commuters hop out of a newly launched Prasa train after a power trip on 28 November 2022. Photo: Twitter/video screenshot
Nothing in Mzansi is certain, a proverb Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) commuters now know better than many.
What should have been a momentous day with the relaunching of trains from Soweto to Johannesburg on Monday was tainted with a touch of disfunction after a power trip” resulted in a 33-minute delay.
Prasa said technicians were on site to “resolve the issue”, and trains continued as normal afterwards, “without any glitches”.
But those 33 minutes were long enough for commuters to cut their losses and clamber out of the train’s windows to make their own way to work – the way they had been for years.
Watch commuters make their own luck:
Prasa spokesperson Andiswa Makanda said there were “no issues today”, and other than “that power trip”, no other issues were reported.
“Trains are running smoothly. They did at 04h00 when we resumed.”
‘People’s Train’ pride
The recovery of the Naledi line “is a major achievement for the Group, given the strategic role played by Metrorail in connecting peripheral communtiies to economic hubs and economic opportunities,” Prasa said in a statement.
“The resumption of services in Soweto comes at an opportune time for commuters who depend on an efficient and affordable mode of transport given the high cost of living and escalating costs of transport.”
The “People’s Train” stops at Naledi, Merafe, Inhlazane, Ikwezi, Dube, Phomolong, Mzimhlophe, New Canada, Longdale, Croesus, Langlaagte, Braamfontein and Park stations, and runs during peeak and off-peak periods.
Strict rules have been put in place.
No smoking, littering, eating or drinking, churches or church services, trading, or gambling is allowed inside the train. Performing any of these taboo activities could see you liable for a fine.
And despite Prasa hoping the train would bolster opportunities for commuters, the unreliable nature of the coal train brought onto the Naledi line in March still haunted some.
One commuter, Thulani Mvelase, told The Citizen that sometimes, the coal train simply never arrived.
“I’m really not sure how this train will work this time,” said Mvelase.
“What also was frustrating is that Prasa only allowed us to buy a single trip, which was a huge inconvenience.
“We want them to sell weekly and monthly tickets because that way we can budget. The single trips feel like you are just paying for a taxi.”
Others are hopeful the “Gautrain standards” of the train will decrease robberies and stampedes.
Compiled by Nica Richards. Additional reporting by Lunga Mzangwe.