PRETORIA, June 3– The Railway Safety Regulator (RSR) has banned the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa’s (Prasa) Gauteng region from operating trains under “abnormal” working conditions.
The prohibition directive was in terms of section 36 of the National Railway Safety Regulator Act for abnormal working conditions – manually authorising train movements which led to Thursday’s Elandsfontein train collision, RSR spokeswoman Madelein Williams said.
The collision occurred at about 6.39am on Thursday morning when a Metro Express train travelling from Pretoria to Johannesburg collided with another Prasa train which was moving out of the Elandsfontein yard. One person died, and train crew and more than 100 passengers were injured in the collision, she said.
“The RSR’s preliminary investigation into this occurrence revealed that there was cable theft on the night before which affected the track circuits and signals in the section between Isando and Elandsfontein. This necessitated abnormal working conditions.
“The preliminary investigation further reveal that two trains were authorised into a section at the same time, thus indicating poor management and unsafe execution of the manual authorisation process,” Williams said.
The Elandsfontein crash had prompted the RSR to consider the history of similar occurrences in the Gauteng region where Prasa failed to operate trains safely during abnormal working conditions.
“The operator is therefore directed to immediately cease operating trains in the Prasa Gauteng region under abnormal working conditions. Trains will be operated only when normal operating conditions have been restored.”
Failure to comply with the directive was an offence in terms of section 45 of the act and would result in criminal charges and/or a penalty being imposed, Williams said.