Notes from underground

يارب يسوع المسيح ابن اللّه الحيّ إرحمني أنا الخاطئ

Passengers must please refrain from…

MetroRail, which runs the Thatcherised suburban commuter trains in South Africa, is having a problem with passengers who toss other passengers off the trains, and is thinking of calling in the army to keep order on trains.

Perhaps they need to look at a couple of remedies closer to home. For one thing, I think the MetroRail trains must be the only ones in the world that run with most of the doors open, and passengers leaning out of the doors, and even climbing on the roof to go surfing. Most commuter trains have a traction interlock switch to ensure that if the doors are open, the train stays put. If MetroRail checked the safety devices on their own trains, they might go a long way towards solving the problem.

But what started the rot was probably the amalgamation of the Railway Police with the South African Police that took place long ago, while the Nats were still in power. Ever since then, safety on the trains has deteriorated, until we have now reached the stage where nearly every week we hear about kids being killed because they were “surfing” the trains — riding on the roof, or passengers are being thrown off because they are foreigners, or scabs, or something.

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