South African Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (SATAWU) is calling on the management of the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) put a plan a place to stem train collisions after at least three people died in a train crash this morning.
More than 300 people were also injured when one commuter train collided into a stationary one on the same track at the Mountain View station in Pretoria. Some passengers were reportedly still trapped under the train at midday.
This comes after several train collisions last year, the worst of which saw 18 people killed in the Free State in January. Prasa attributed the accidents to various factors including human error, cable theft, problems with the signaling system, etc. Now it is clear that unless Prasa management makes the eradication of collisions a priority, the situation will not improve.
SATAWU has previously urged the rail agency to accelerate the modernisation of its infrastructure and to ensure that adequate human resources are made available during abnormal working (when the signaling system is not operational). The Railway Safety Regulator has also instructed Prasa to ensure that critical staff vacancies are filled. Despite this collisions continue unabated.
SATAWU calls on Prasa management to treat train collisions as an emergency and put a plan in place to ensure they stop occurring. Management must also ensure trains run on time to prevent situations where drivers feel compelled to exceed the regulated 30 km/hr to make up time in an attempt to get commuters to work on time.
Workers have also indicated the new signaling system is prone to breakdowns and appears affected by changes in weather conditions such as rain, lightning, etc. It is only through close monitoring, evaluation and appropriate adjustment that management can confirm this. It is for this reason that we urge Prasa management deliver on their mandate and manage the agency effectively.
For more details and to arrange an interview contact:
Zanele Sabela, SATAWU Media Officer, 011 403 2077, firstname.lastname@example.org