Acting transport minister wants swift probe into train crash

04 September 2018 - 16:09 By Nico Gous
Metrorail workers are pictured on the scene where two trains collided on September 4, 2018, near the Booysens train station in Johannesburg. Over 100 commuters were injured in the incident.
Metrorail workers are pictured on the scene where two trains collided on September 4, 2018, near the Booysens train station in Johannesburg. Over 100 commuters were injured in the incident.
Image: Alaister Russell/The Sunday Times

Acting transport minister Thulas Nxesi wants the Railway Safety Regulator (RSR) and the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) to speed up their investigation into a train crash that injured more than 100 people.

Two Metrorail trains collided on Tuesday morning just after 7am near Booysens station in the south of Johannesburg. Seven people were seriously injured.

Nxesi has urged Prasa to speed up the replacement of railway signalling systems. “We are doing so‚ with a full appreciation that South Africans‚ in [the] majority‚ the poor and the working class‚ deserve an efficient‚ responsive‚ safe and cost-effective public transport system‚” he said.

The regulator last week granted Prasa a one-year safety permit to operate the country’s trains after raising concerns earlier that saw them issue a temporary safety permit.

The United National Transport Union (Untu) suspects that “manual authorisations” of both trains could have caused the crash on Tuesday. Manual authorisations occur when electronic signals are not working. Officials manually instruct train drivers when to stop and go.

Untu general-secretary Steve Harris said: “Untu’s repeated warnings that Prasa is a ticking time bomb operating death machines‚ due to its inability to combat crime and vandalism‚ its inability to do proper maintenance and its inability to procure spares‚ has so far fallen on deaf ears.”

According to Harris more than half of Prasa’s trains operated on manual authorisations‚ because of broken signalling systems.

“When trains are manually authorised to continue a route‚ they are more exposed to human error as what happened this morning when the two trains collided on the same route.”

Over 100 commuters sustained injuries ranging from minor to serious on Tuesday September 4 2018 after two trains collided while travelling on the same track.


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