Happy Monday GoMetropolitans!
The GoMetro team likes to chat about the fun stuff as much as everyone else, but sometimes a really serious issue comes up. Like today. Without getting your week off to a heavy start, it’s come to our attention that a lot of people need to be more cautious with train travel.
This February, four staff members of the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) were robbed at gunpoint on a train by five unknown men at Somerset station in Cape Town. And Metrorail’s already beleaguered Central Line will be out of operation indefinitely because of “the constant vandalism of the line by criminals,” according to United National Transport Union general secretary Steve Harris, who added that “it appears the crime spree on the railway lines has increased on the Northern Line.”
To add to this, the Rail Safety Regulator has said that in 2017 the amount of ‘safety related incidents’, including thefts committed on trains and cable theft, increased by 13% compared to the previous year and was at its highest since 2010, when the World Cup packed tourists into trains.
So, today, we’ve put together a short list of how to be safer on trains:
Don’t crank up the tunes
Putting in your earphones and playing music is a great way to while away your morning commute – but it’s not so great for safety. Apart from being unable to hear someone walking up to you or saying anything suspicious, it also tends to be immersive and makes most of us less aware of our surroundings. Which is why we play it in the first place, I guess. A good compromise if you don’t want to forego the tunes? Listen with one earphone in and one out, or play your tracks at a low volume on earphones that aren’t the noise-cancellation kind.
Travel in packs
This one is particularly for the ladies – try where possible to go somewhere in groups, especially at night. Most criminals, especially the pickpocketing kind, will target individual travellers because, while you might not notice them slipping a hand into your pocket, chances are the friend next to you will. Also, men looking to assault women won’t target anyone in a pack.
Hold onto your stuff
This is the simplest safety trip, and the one the most people avoid. Most train crimes aren’t violent in nature, they’re simply theft. Many people think that ‘if it’s attached to me, I’m fine’. However, many people experience stuff on trains being stolen while it’s on their person. Culprits include things in handbags with longer handles, pockets of bulkier long coats, front pockets of laptop bags and side pockets of handbags. Wherever you have your cellphone, wallet or whatever else you don’t want gone, we suggest you physically touch the pocket/place it’s in habitually just to ensure it’s still there, or else reconfigure your outfit so that it’s placed across your torso area, where we have the greatest sense of spatial awareness and personal space boundaries with others.
If possible, avoid worse times of day
That being said, try not to be on either the late trains or, if possible, in packed standing-room-only trains at peak hours after work. More brazen attacks tend to happen on more deserted late trains, while pickpockets thrive in standing crowds on trains.
To see more safety pointers from us, check out our ten top tips here.
What do you do to stay safe on trains? Got any commuter hacks? Please share them with us! Until then, have a great week, GoMetropolitans. Stay cool.