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What does it take to run a railroad? A lot of people with a lot of different skills, says Clarissa Beyah of Union Pacific, one of the biggest railway companies in the world, which operates 8,300 locomotives on 50,000km of track across 23 states in the US. Cape Town’s ambition is quite a bit smaller, but the goal is still big.

The city is gearing up for the task of taking charge of its suburban rail network. A feasibility study is already under way. If successful, it would be a light at the end of the tunnel for fed-up commuters, who for years have had to put up with a service dogged by mismanagement and widescale vandalism, compounded by the presence of shacks on some rail tracks...

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