Project Blogs / SA / South Africa

SA Project: Some examples of imaginaries

Metrorail in the Lowveld

South African train imaginaries from interviews with train users and non-users

  • Come and stand on the platform by the station, come see it personally with your own eyes, come see how many trains there are, how many people get on them, how overcrowded it is. And then you get guys who throw stones at the trains and there isn’t even proper security on the trains.
  • I don’t use trains because my car is more convenient and if I have to sit and wait for transport then I won’t do it. If I can just get in the car and go, I will do it. It will be my first option.
  • I know that you are not allowed to eat or drink on a train, unless you are on holiday with a Blue Train, with luxury trains.
  • You need special drivers for steam trains and I don’t know if those old guys are still alive. Today, everything is electrical. You push the button and there you go, and the computer does everything for you.
  • Their name is not actually Metrorail, it is Metro-FAIL. It’s the cheapest transport possible but their service is pathetic. Pathetic!
  • A train is number 1. I like it. In the train, I like safety. To be safe. Not too much Tsotsi in the train, except in the station. But inside the train, it’s safe.
  • Sometimes, if you find gospel people on the train, then you sing and you go nicely. Sometimes when you got smokers, they say ‘no, no, it is not our place’ and then they move away. Sing them away until you arrive.
  • The biggest thing that Metrorail doesn’t have, and that makes it so convenient for them, is the lack of competition. If there was competition, then Metrorail would improve their services.
  • You see, I take the train every day. I have to. Like yesterday morning, my train leaves at 05:45 AM. No announcements, nothing: the train comes at 06:30 AM. Now I first have to let the people at work know that the train is late but they don’t understand. It is very frustrating.
  • There are always delays, long delays. They never give you any reasons for why there are delays, or that there will be delays, or how long the delays will last for. So there is an absolute shortage of information. You just don’t know why you are sitting there for an hour. It’s very frustrating. But it’s very cheap to take the train.
  • It is nice to take the train. I enjoy it. It’s quiet and a bit more personal as oppose to sitting alone in your car. It is actually nice to be part of the community and to move in and out of it, to do a little people-watching. I come from a cultural background where you don’t make use of public transport, and I find it interesting to see how other groups of people come and go throughout the day.
  • This morning I overslept by 20 minutes but I knew that when I’ll arrive at the station the train will still be late.
  • We have church meetings on the train. We have a little group that meets on the train and holds a little church service every morning until we reach Stellenbosch station. We are Christians. We are all faithful people that meet each other on the train, and the Sister would pray, and we would sing, and encourage each other, and talk about God. We have a little service in the mornings.
  • If it was safe and it was clean and there was aircon, and it was on time and it worked, then it makes sense. But if it doesn’t arrive on time, if it breaks down along the way and there aren’t any benches to sit on and everyone must stand, and you see the train tracks go by because half of the floor has fallen away, and another guy stands with a knife against your throat and takes your mobile phone and wallet, then why would you want to be on that train?
  • Metrorail: poor service, dirty trains, cheap. Waiting. In the past 13 days, there was ONE day, and I take four trains a day, and there was only one day, when all the trains were on time.
  • If you make it a safer means of transport, then probably more people would use it. But if you have another option, you wouldn’t use public trains.
  • Metrorail’s service is very poor. I started taking the trains in 2006. It was sad back then and now it’s even sadder. It gets worse every year. And these days, it feels like it is getting worse every week.
  • The Gautrain is a system at this stage that is operating. It’s working. It seems to be the answer.
  • I enjoy taking the train. You don’t get stuck in traffic, you don’t have difficulty finding parking. You don’t get irritated with other people on the road. It’s a lot safer because there are many deaths on the roads, many car accidents. It’s cheaper than to maintain your car.
  • I want to see the people who make trains. I can say thank you. I can say thank you more. You are clever. Because, actually, I like nature. You know, many people can’t. They have no money. Like the Black people, they can’t take a trip from here to Mozambique or to somewhere, just to see. We are not like you. People see nature when they are inside the train when it goes. Which means that God made the secrets and even if you are suffer people, even if you are rich people, but you will see the nature – ALL of you. No matter if you have money or with no money, in the train it is one thing. If it is only 20 Rand, all of us is going to go there and we can see what God made in the land.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *