‘No re­gard for rail safety at Prasa’

Reg­u­la­tor says agency flouts pro­ce­dures

Sowetan - - News - By Neels Blom

The Rail Safety Reg­u­la­tor has crit­i­cised SA’s pas­sen­ger rail en­tity Prasa fol­low­ing a col­li­sion be­tween two Metro­rail trains at the Moun­tain View sta­tion, north of Pre­to­ria, in which three peo­ple died and more than 200 were in­jured.

The reg­u­la­tor act­ing CEO, Tshepo Kgare, said yes­ter­day Prasa “con­tin­ued to demon­strate the high­est lev­els of lethargy and dis­re­gard for rail safety in its op­er­a­tions”, and that it con­tra­vened its own stan­dard op­er­at­ing pro­ce­dures as well as the di­rec­tives is­sued to it by the reg­u­la­tor.

The reg­u­la­tor is­sued sev­eral safety con­tra­ven­tion no­tices to Prasa in re­cent years.

In Oc­to­ber, it sus­pended Prasa’s safety per­mit fol­low­ing a col­li­sion in Kemp­ton Park in which 320 peo­ple were in­jured.

Prasa chal­lenged the sus­pen­sion in court, but an out-of­court set­tle­ment was reached, and the sus­pen­sion was lifted. This avoided a coun­try­wide shut­down of SA’s pas­sen­ger rail sys­tem.

Kgare said the RSR had con­sis­tently high­lighted the risks in­her­ent to pro­longed pe­ri­ods of man­ual train au­tho­ri­sa­tions and that it con­tin­ued to com­pel Prasa to pro­vide proper con­trol and su­per­vi­sion of man­ual train au­tho­ri­sa­tion.

In its pre­lim­i­nary re­port on Tues­day’s col­li­sion, the reg­u­la­tor found that the rail sec­tion where the col­li­sion hap­pened was un­der man­ual con­trol, and that it had been since Novem­ber.

It said this meant trains were un­der a speed limit of 30km/h.

It said the con­di­tion of the dam­aged trains sug­gested that the train trav­el­ling to­wards the Pre­to­ria sta­tion may have been trav­el­ling at “con­sid­er­able speed”, although the RSR would only be able to con­firm that once the event-recorder data had been an­a­lysed.

The pre­lim­i­nary in­ves­ti­ga­tion also found that there had been a break­down in com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween the train con­trol of­fi­cer and a driver and that they might have con­tra­vened lan­guage pol­icy.

“After the train driver re­peated the au­thor­ity in­cor­rectly, the [con­troller] ac­knowl­edged the in­cor­rect au­thor­ity. This re­sulted in the train en­ter­ing the sec­tion be­tween the Pre­to­ria North and Moun­tain View sta­tion wrong­fully,” the in­ves­ti­ga­tion found.

“This ac­ci­dent high­lights fail­ures at var­i­ous lev­els,” said Kgare.

“We there­fore urge Prasa to ad­dress these short­com­ings in all earnest.”

/ TWIT­TER/@ABRAMJEE/VIA REUTERS

A train crashed into an­other at Moun­tain View sta­tion, north­ern Pre­to­ria, on Tues­day.

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