Restored booms cause traffic snarl-ups

Kenilworth booms are closed during peak hours, from 6.20am to 8.20am and from 5pm to 6.15pm.

Newly restored Kenilworth railway station booms, which are closed during peak-hour traffic, are causing traffic congestion, say Kenilworth and Harfield residents.

The booms were on the blink from June last year to July this year, according to, Riana Scott, Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) spokeswoman.

Prasa flagmen directed traffic at the crossing while the booms weren’t working.

But now the booms are back and better than before, according to Ms Scott, who says full functionality – along with LED lights and other new technology replacing the old – was restored in August.

But the return of the booms has also seen the return of the schedule that kept them closed during peak-hour traffic in the morning and evening.

“The previous operating hours have been reinstated with the level crossing closed during peak hours which is from 6.20am – 8.20am in the morning and 5pm – 6.15pm in the evening,” said Ms Scott.

With the flagmen, motorists were able to use the level crossing during the peak hours but now that crossing is closed again during peak hours, traffic congestion has worsened.

The main source of congestion during peak hours is in Imam Haron Road leading to the Stanhope Road bridge and the Wetton Road bridge, leading up towards Main Road, Wynberg.

Debbie Bergman, from Wade Road in Harfield, said her road was the main rat-run for cars bound for Imam Haron Road.

“It’s a nightmare in the morning, and in the six years that we have lived here it is impossible not to be awakened by the traffic,” she said.

There had been less traffic before the boom system was restored, she said.

At a meeting with Prasa officials, police and residents on Tuesday October 15 ward councillor Sharon Cottle asked whether the level crossing should continue to be closed during peak hours.

Ms Cottle said Western Cape Prasa head Richard Walker had agreed to consult with his organisation and a further meeting with Prasa officials was planned for the end of the month, although details had not been confirmed.

Harfield resident Sean McFarlane said it could take his wife 30 to 45 minutes to cross the Wetton Road bridge because of the peak-hour traffic congestion.

He wants more traffic assessments to be done to see how traffic can flow better.

Harfield resident Daniela Leigh, of Harfield, believes there are gaps in the peak-hour when the booms can be opened.

“Although there are quite a few trains at that time, there is still quite a lot of in-between time.”

Henk Egberink, of Kenilworth, is in favour of eliminating the two-hour closure at peak times.

“That may have been acceptable 20 years ago but not today. Prasa should be user-friendly and make a plan,” he said.

Amrain Ismail-Essop, who stays on the border of Harfield Village and Kenilworth, started an online petition a month ago, for the Kenilworth booms to be reopened during peak hours. It has been signed by more than 1 100 supporters.

“Traffic on the Wetton Road bridge and Stanhope Road bridge is completely congested during peak hours, and there is no reason the booms shouldn’t be open to relieve traffic congestion given that there is enough time between trains during peak hours to allow for this,” she said.