Prioritise signalling, portfolio committee says after train crash

The chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Transport on Wednesday called on the Rail Safety Regulator (RSR) to prioritise signalling in its programmes.

Committee chairperson Dikeledi Magadzi in a statement said signalling challenges are believed to have led to the collision between two trains at the Eloff extension in Selby, south of Johannesburg, that left 112 people injured on Tuesday morning.

Metrorail train 9708 was travelling from Faraday towards New Canada when it collided head-on with Naledi-Jikeleza train 9949.

Seven commuters sustained serious injuries while 105 others had minor injuries.

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Metrorail was currently authorising trains manually because of a signalling upgrade underway within that area.

"Signalling in rail sector is a challenge and should be attended to as a matter of urgency. Train accidents pose an even greater risk to many poor people than road (accidents)," Magadzi said.

"Accidents are not what we want the rail sector to be known for, rather its cost effectiveness, reliability and safety."

She said while the committee welcomed the calls for investigations, "those should lead to improvement of service".

It would try to invite the RSR to brief the committee on signaling challenges and progress made before the end of the year, Magadzi said.