When it comes to transport for myself, I don’t have the luxury of choice. Since I am working in Johannesburg and living in Pretoria, this means that I have to use the train.
Currently, taxi drivers are not permitting me in their vehicles due to the fact that I am using a guide dog. It is discriminatory but, who cares.
So, the trains: What can I say about them?
From my understanding, I have three choices; actually 4, if you count the Gautrain.
There is the real slow train; this one stops almost anywhere and everywhere.
Then there is the slightly faster one, stopping only in Centurion, kemptonpark and finally in Parkstation.
Then, there is the Tswane Business Express. Stopping at the same places but, a bit more luxurious with protection services, a newspaper given to passengers, etc.
During the last 10 months, I have learnt quite a bit about the operations and the workings.
The situation is currently dire, to say the least.
The trains and the railway line itself, is not being maintained at all.
As I am sitting in the train, typing this out, there are strange rattling noises. It almost sounds as if bits of the train is moving around, constently falling out and so on.
I know that this post might seem somewht pointless however, I spoke to an individual this morning, whom I converse with from time-to-time and he told me that the people are really becoming frustrated with Metrorail.
You see, it should take at most 1 hour and 30 minutes from Johannesburg to Pretoria; however, yesterday evening, the slow train, the train used by mostly poor people, arrived only at 09:30 PM.
Allow me to explain.
So, you are working in Johannesburg. You stay in Pretoria, let’s say, pretoria east. Your train leaves from Pretoria east for Pretoria main train station at 03:40 AM. This is when the train leaves. So, you got to be at the train station, to go to work. I assume that you have a family, you got to prepare lunch, possibly for others as well, bath, etc. Ok, so, you are on the train at this time.
Depending on when you finally reach Pretoria Main train station, you now have to jump for your train to Johannesburg. I have personally been on this train before and can say that it takes easily 2 hours, on a good day. So, you arrive at your destination. Yo work; basically you have had a real long day.
Ebd if dat us bearubg abd tiy are kiijubg firward giubg home. However, the train is delayed. Not for the first time. This is a frequent occurrence. To be stuck on the train for sometimes up to 6 hours is crazy, unacceptable; it is a violation of one’s dignity.
So, let’s take last night in our example.
You now arrive in Pretoria main train station at 09:30 PM. You still have to get home. What kind of life is that? Who do you talk to? How do you address this concern to?
I know that I complain many a time about probably insignificant things but, this doesn’t seem right to me.
People are frustrated, as I mentioned earlier; and my friend said that they are starting to consider drastic actions.
I just hope that Prasa, Metrorail, the department of transport and hour mostly useless government takes note of the situation.
My train is rattling, but, at least it is moving. I do get to Pretoria late, most of the time but, I do not spend anything from 3 to 6 hours in the train.
I hope that I will one day be able to report that things are ok for these poor people who are financially obliged to using the train since taxies are not affordable.
Let’s spare a thought for those people, working hard, travelling long hours and that do not get enough sleep. It could be you one day.