Dissolve the Railway Safety Regulator safety board, urges union

14 February 2020 - 09:55
By Tankiso Makhetha
The  passenger train that crashed on Wednesday. / ANTONIO MUCHAVE
The passenger train that crashed on Wednesday. / ANTONIO MUCHAVE

Calls for transport minister Fikile Mbalula to dissolve the current board of the Railway Safety Regulator (RSR) have been made following a train collision that claimed the life of a passenger on the West Rand.

The crash left scores injured happened at around 10pm on Wednesday when a Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) Premier Classe train collided with a stationary Transnet goods train between the Roodepoort and Horizon stations.

Steve Harris of the United National Transport Union (Untu) yesterday urged Mbalula to get rid of the RSR board as it was "toothless" in the face of fatal crashes.

"The RSR has no teeth and cannot be compared to other watchdog institutions like Civil Aviation. If Civil Aviation grounds an airline, it remains grounded until it is declared safe to start operating again. The RSR, on the other hand, simply turns a blind eye," Harris said. "Minister Mbalula needs to dissolve the current board of RSR, which has been appointed on a month-to-month basis since their contracts expired last October."

Mbalula said a full investigation into the cause of the train collision will be conducted.

He said the department will identify the cause of the crash and "devise strategies to minimise similar occurrences in future".

Prasa spokesperson Nana Zenani said: "The Premier Classe passenger train left Cape Town on Tuesday with 36 passengers. Five passengers disembarked in Kimberley, leaving 31 passengers and 14 staff members on board."

Zenani said alternative transport was arranged for the rest of passengers to their various destinations. She also said investigations were under way.

"Main Line Passenger Services management wishes to express our heartfelt apologies to the guests and staff. All necessary measures will be put in place to provide full support to the guests and staff involved in the accident," Zenani said.

ER24's Russel Meiring said when they and other paramedics arrived at the scene, they found a man and an elderly woman lying trapped inside the carriage of the passenger train.

He said they assessed them and found that the man had sustained numerous injuries and showed no signs of life.

"Unfortunately, nothing could be done by paramedics. The elderly woman was assessed and found to have sustained numerous injuries and was in a critical condition."

Meiring said they worked for over two hours to free the trapped woman from the train.