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2 teens arrested for Cape Town station fire

Two suspected teenage train arsonists have been arrested in connection with a fire that destroyed 18 carriages at Cape Town Train Station.

The fire was started during the early hours on 28 November and caused the temporary shutdown of the station. Authorities reviewed CCTV footage of two suspects.

Police Minister Bheki Cele confirmed the development to Eyewitness News on Wednesday.

“We have two people arrested for the arson,” he said.

Police spokesperson Novela Potelwa said: “We can confirm that two teenagers were arrested by our detectives following the release of the CCTV footage and pictures of the alleged arsonists behind the torching of 18 train carriages at Cape Town Train Station.”

https://ewn.co.za/2019/12/11/2-teens-arrested-for-cape-town-station-fire
 

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Karoo Prime
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I was stunned this morning to see that Golden Arrow Bus Services has a brand new double-decker bus in their fleet on the Cape Town - Bellville route along Voortrekker Road. I must say I didn't see THAT coming. Pity I didn't have a camera on me at the time.
 

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Karoo Prime
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We should start converting to Battery Electric buses like most of the world. Allot cheaper to run, less noisy, less vibrations and no pollutants. As of June last year there 17 percent of the world’s buses were already electric—425,000 in total.
 

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apparently there were some irregularities with the contract for the buses. As far as I know they are being stored somewhere. What a waste
 

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Battery-electric buses are really really far away from being the future

First, there is no good track record for battery electric buses in extreme cold; in fact the opposite is true. Second, because electric trolley buses don’t have to carry an engine or big heavy batteries on board, they offer additional seating capacity which makes a big difference on high demand routes. Finally, a double decker problem: battery buses need additional time to recharge (fast charging technology remains at a suboptimal stage) and tend to get many fewer real world miles than advertised, meaning the buses can’t complete as many runs in a day. As a result, transit agencies have found that they must purchase additional battery electric buses to run the same service than then they would need with either diesel, hybrid, or electric trolley buses. Purchasing battery electric buses at this time is simply not a fiscally or operationally prudent idea. Some real-world examples underscore this point.

Recent experience with battery electric buses in Moscow offers a cautionary tale. Like many people who buy into tech pizzazz, Moscow’s mayor believes that trolley buses are outdated. He has busied himself with replacing the city’s extensive electric trolley bus network with battery electric buses. Unfortunately, the result has been nothing short of a disaster. The batteries don’t last long enough for a full day’s work, so buses have to swap in and out of service. To run the same frequency that used to be provided with 46 trolley buses, Moscow had to procure 82 battery electric buses. This was last September, even before the notorious Russian winter, which is when batteries can be sure to drain most rapidly.

In China, the much-discussed expansion of battery electric buses slowed down dramatically for the same reason. Shenzhen trumpeted itself as the city of the future when it became the first city in the world to convert its entire bus fleet to battery electric buses, all bought from local manufacturer BYD. Subsequently, the installation rate stalled, and China’s battery bus fleet is now growing at much lower rates than in past years as the government has decided against continued subsidization of this technology.

Notably, Shenzhen has never in modern history recorded a temperature below freezing; the average temperature there in January is 59 degrees. Also notably, the government’s actions following the Shenzhen bus fleet experiment make clear that the results have been disappointing: the installation rate in other cities has slowed and the government has opted away from further large-scale conversions. In any event, what works for Shenzhen will simply not work for cities with harsh winters, like those of Northern and Central China – or Boston.
https://commonwealthmagazine.org/opinion/kicking-the-tires-on-battery-electric-buses/

Short routes with long pauses between circulations, no heavy passenger loads, no inclines, no cold and no heat - otherwise u run into trouble with battery electric buses.
 

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trolley buses is also a good idea but needs a lot of new infrastructure for overhead lines and does limit the freedom to drive anywhere. myCiti and Golden Arrow only run during the day time so you have 6-8 hours to charge the busses suring the night. Some electric Buses also get a short burst of charge with a pantograph at each station.
It does seem the world as a whole is moving towards battery electric vehicles as a whole
 

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A lot of infrastructure is relative - a competent authority can manage to put up the infrastructure for about $0.5-1.5 million per kilometer. Cover the current trunk corridors in CT and we speaking about something like $100-150 million. Standard diesel buses go for about $200k, CT spend about $900k for each of its battery-electric buses (that can't go up its hills). If it were to replace its whole 200+ fleet the cost difference alone would cover the infrastructure expenses
 

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Electric buses that charge at the depots will need a lot less infrastructure that is not as unsightly as overhead wires, but I also think the city overpaid for the buses.
The issue that it couldn't go uphill was apparently untrue and even if it was true it is more about specifying the correct motor sizes than the technology itself, just like one has to specify the size of a diesel bus engine.
 

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The problem is inherent to battery electric buses due to energy density of batteries. Also there is a physical limit for batteries currently on how much power can be utilized at once if u want them to be still safe to use in public transportation. A 'stronger' motor means larger 'heavier' batteries again requiring stronger propulsion. Apart of propulsion public transit buses need a lot of energy for kneeling, heating, cooling etc. Battery-packs already weigh up to 2 tons!

Transit agencies that were pushed to get electric buses world wide make unanimously bad experiences and as much as manufacturers promise there has been little or no improvement on the problems plaguing agencies everywhere. In China 'it works' because economic considerations sometimes don't count as much - use 400 buses instead of 200 to deliver the same level of service? no problem!

About ugly wires - somehow a very anglophone concern - I understand it if it is in a historic pristine city center in Italy or Spain but CT?
 

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Well we all wish SA cities would just fix their train networks which are among the most extensive in the developing world. Cape Town's already existing train network could carry over 1 million people per day easily, which is a lot for a city of 4 million, and this could go up to 2 million with well though out extensions.
 

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Mpondo seems to have a good reputation in the business world, the minister has given him a lot of leeway to implement restructuring as well so I really wish him the best:

Administrator sets out ambitious plan for 'broken' PRASA

Lifestyle audits, cashless ticketing, renegotiating Eskom tariffs and finalising the general overhaul tender are all on the to-do list for the newly appointed administrator of the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA), Bongisizwe Mpondo.

Transport Minister Fikile Mabalula appointed Mpondo as administrator in December, after axing the interim board, in an attempt to “bring stability” to the rail entity.

Mpondo have worked with a number of public entities before, including South African Express and South African Airways.

“Interim board after interim board – it will not improve the situation. PRASA is broken,” said Mbalula on Wednesday as he addressed a large contingent of media at PRASA’s Braamfontein depot.

He added that giving money to PRASA was like “pouring water into a bottomless pit. It can’t be business as usual. There is no leadership. This place is on autopilot”.

While Mbalula’s first attempt at turning PRASA around was to set up a War Room to improve efficiencies, this had not achieved the desired results, he acknowledged.

PRASA had seen five turnaround strategies since 2009.

The administrator has been tasked, over a 12-month period, with turning around the ailing State rail agency, which runs the Metrorail commuter rail service, as well as the long-distance Shosholoza Meyl rail service.

Indicative of the problems at PRASA was the fact that the agency had spent only 10% of its capital budget by November last year, with the financial year to end on March 31, said Mpondo.

Expanding on the list of ailments at the agency, he noted that PRASA leadership “had taken questionable decisions with disasterous consequences”, such as the board cancelling the security contracts last year without having a contingency security plan in place.

There was also no proper record keeping at PRASA, the procurement process had been hampered, the capital expenditure programme had been delayed, and there existed no adequate data back-up within the organisation, with information often only stored on employees’ computers, said Mpondo.

Irregular expenditure at PRASA was also “very high”, running at close to R30-billion in 2018/19.

Read more: https://www.engineeringnews.co.za/article/administrator-sets-out-ambitious-plan-for-broken-prasa-2020-01-15
 

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Eskom cuts power to entire Western Cape rail system

The acting regional manager for the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) in the Western Cape Raymond Maseko on Thursday said Eskom had cut its power due to non-payment, leading to the suspension of the entire Metrorail system.

The operator said no trains would be operating for the rest of Thursday.

Earlier, Metrorail stated trains were in a holding pattern due to the loss of overhead electrical power.

Metrorail said given the devastating impact of Eskom’s action in the Western Cape, urgent discussions between Prasa executives and the power utility’s officials were under way.

The loss of power across the region also meant that the usual operational alternatives such as electronic or manual authorisation, and diesel locomotives were not available, leaving 289,000 commuters without rail transport.

Maseko appealed to customers to be patient and to comply with Metrorail employee instructions.

“Every effort is being made to resolve the issue with our electricity provider to restore services as soon as possible,” he said.

Maseko said a cut of traction power was unprecedented and Eskom had declared Metrorail a priority user during load shedding.

https://ewn.co.za/2020/02/27/lights-out-eskom-cuts-off-power-to-entire-wc-rail-system
 
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