Rail safety regulator bans manual signal changes

Cape Town - The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) is banned from manually authorising trains following another train accident, this time in Germiston, the Railway Safety Regulator (RSR) said on Wednesday.

"Prasa is, therefore, prohibited from manually authorising trains until such a time that normal train services are restored or until such a time when Prasa Rail can provide the RSR with a comprehensive and convincing action plan for all affected areas in all the provinces where Metrorail trains operate," the regulator stated.

Failure to comply will result in criminal charges and/or a penalty being imposed.

The prohibitive directive was issued in terms of section 36 of the National Railway Safety Regulator Act 16 of 2002 "for operating under conditions which are a threat or might be a threat to safe railway operations".

The regulator alleged that this led to the collision in Geldenhuys, Germiston on Tuesday in which around 200 people were injured when two trains collided.

This followed the horror crash in which 19 people died after a Shosholoza Meyl train collided with a truck near Kroonstad in the Free State last Friday.

Prasa received an earlier prohibition directive on June 19, 2017, following a train crash at Elandsfontein.

It was ordered to stop operating trains in the Prasa Gauteng region "under abnormal working conditions". 

The regulator said Prasa told them that they were ensuring safe train operations during "degraded conditions".

"However, on the morning of January 9, two Metrorail trains were involved in a rear-end collision at the station in Geldenhuys. This accident convinced the RSR that Prasa Rail does not have the means to prevent accidents from happening during degraded mode when manual authorisations are undertaken."