By Sam Cowie, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Angered by constant service problems, SuperVia train passengers rallied in protest Friday morning causing massive disruptions to services. Trouble began around 8AM when service from Santa Cruz to Central station ground to a halt on the line because of a technical problem.
Frustrated passengers disembarked before walking to nearby Oswaldo Cruz station, severely crowded because of the delays. Many passengers remained on the tracks in protest and several enraged individuals set fire to objects along the line.
Police were eventually called in, brandishing nightsticks in an attempt to remove protestors from the tracks, causing further delays. Altogether, services were interrupted for about three hours.
Angry passengers also occupied Japeri and Diodorus stations, where police used pepper spray to disperse protestors after several acts of vandalism were committed.
SuperVia, issued a statement that the train stopped at 7:53AM and the passengers disembarked at 8AM, being told to wait for the next train. Also according to the company, technicians removed the stalled train at 8:27AM, but because the lines were occupied by passengers the police were called.
SuperVia is private operator in Rio de Janeiro founded in November 1998 and awarded the transportation concession until 2048. It carries over 500,000 passengers per day between 89 stations in eleven cities: Rio de Janeiro, Duque de Caxias, Nova Iguaçu, Nilópolis, Mesquita, Queimados, São João de Meriti, Belford Roxo, Japeri, Paracambi, and Magé.
The protest comes after passengers have become increasingly annoyed with what they perceive as an inadequate service. Since 2009, there have been at least fourteen serious incidents on the railway in the metropolitan region of Rio, including derailments, pedestrian accidents and crashes- an average of at least one serious accident every 75 days.
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