Broken signalling system and failed brakes led to Pretoria train crash

05 June 2019 - 18:03 By Nico Gous
The signalling system between the Eerste Fabrieke and Pienaarspoort stations has been broken for about two years.
The signalling system between the Eerste Fabrieke and Pienaarspoort stations has been broken for about two years.
Image: 123rf.com/Marina Pissarova

The signalling systems between two stations in Pretoria was broken for about two years and contributed to the train crash on Saturday.

That is what the Railway Safety Regulator (RSR) found in its preliminary investigation after a Prasa train and a Transnet tamping machine crashed at the Eerste Fabrieke station, injuring 64 commuters and two crew members.

The RSR found the Transnet tamping machine failed at the Greenview station and lost its brakes, leading it to accelerate before crashing into the stationary Prasa train at Eerste Fabrieke station.

"Communication between the crew of the tamping machine and the Centralised Train Control (CTC) centre failed," said newly appointed transport minister Fikile Mbalula on Wednesday.

The RSR also found the signalling system between the Eerste Fabrieke and Pienaarspoort stations has been broken for about two years.

"This is a matter of serious concern due to the heightened risk of manual authorisation. It is clear from the report that the train crew performed their duties with diligence, calm and professionalism and averted many more potential injuries," Mbalula said.

The RSR also found commuters interfered with the driver by activating the alarm when he tried to move the train backwards to avoid the crash.

"It is equally alarming to learn that passengers ignored the driver's instruction to evacuate the train, resulting in injuries that could have been avoided. This should not be construed as apportioning any blame to those who were injured in the incident," Mbalula said.

Mbalula believes train safety is a "collective responsibility".

"It is only when we work together and respect safety protocols in our railways that we can save life and limb."


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