Safety regulator fears dire consequences after another Metrorail accident

08 October 2018 - 07:43 By Naledi Shange
Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa will continue to operate Metrorail trains this week.
Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa will continue to operate Metrorail trains this week.
Image: Gallo Images / Rapport / Deon Raath

As the Railway Safety Regulator (RSR) pushes to have Prasa's permit suspended‚ another Metrorail train accident has been reported‚ the RSR said at the weekend.

"Another Prasa train derailed at the Mayfair Station [on Sunday]‚" said RSR spokesperson Madelein Williams in a statement.

"These accidents‚ irrespective of the magnitude‚ point to major risks within Prasa's operations and could have dire consequences. The regulator is‚ therefore‚ unable to tolerate the continuation of unsafe practices within Prasa‚ considering that Prasa mainly serves the poorest of the poor‚ with no alternative means of transport to travel to and from work. They should‚ therefore‚ not be made to choose between that and life‚" Williams said.

It was not immediately clear what led to the derailment of the train or whether there were any injuries.

Meanwhile‚ the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) will continue to operate Metrorail trains this week as the High Court has held over the RSR decision to suspend its permit.

The court will this week hear an application by the RSR to revoke Prasa’s license to operate.

In a statement‚ the RSR confirmed that it had filed papers with the High Court at the weekend.

"On Sunday‚ 7 October 2018‚ the Prasa Board sought an audience with the RSR Board‚ while filing court papers which were served to the RSR around 11h00‚ at the same time as the meeting. The RSR was expected to file its answering affidavit by 13h00 on the same day. In light of the fact that Prasa had already made an urgent application to the High Court‚ the meeting could not proceed due to the impending court application‚" said Williams. "The court considered the fact that the RSR was not afforded sufficient time to respond to the urgent application and granted parties more time to file their papers‚ including their heads of arguments. Parties are expected to report to the court on immediate steps to address safety issues on 9 October 2018‚ where after the matter will be heard on 11 October 2018."

The RSR said it had decided to act to revoke Prasa's permit following a train accident in Kempton Park that left more than 300 passengers injured.

Metrorail train 0659‚ which was travelling from Johannesburg Park Station to Pretoria‚ collided from the rear with train 0663‚ which was faulty and stationary at Van Riebeeck Park Station.

"The RSR suspended Prasa's safety permit in terms of Section 26 of the National Railway Safety Regulator Act‚ No. 16 of 2002 (as amended). Section 26 states that the Chief Executive Officer of the RSR may‚ with the approval of the Board‚ revoke or suspend a safety permit if the holder fails to comply with any conditions of the permit‚" said Williams.

"The RSR’s decision came as a result of the accident that took place on 4 October 2018 and was further informed by the fact that Prasa Rail cannot demonstrate that it has the ability‚ commitment and resources to properly assess and effectively control the risks arising from its railway operations‚" she added. 

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