Prasa complies with Railway Safety Regulator’s directive to suspend Shosholoza Meyl

The Passenger Rail Agency of SA said it has complied with the Railway Safety Regulator's order for Shosholoza Meyl to stop operating.
The Passenger Rail Agency of SA said it has complied with the Railway Safety Regulator's order for Shosholoza Meyl to stop operating.
Image: Chuck Coker (Flickr)

The Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) on Friday said it had complied with the Railway Safety Regulator's (RSR's) directive to suspend Shosholoza Meyl operations.

The directive followed findings by the RSR against the Prasa-operated train service after a fatal crash on February 12.

Prasa spokesperson Makhosini Mgitywa said the agency was on a process to reorganise staff while also coming up with a plan with an aim to lift the suspension.

“Management is in the process of reorganising all affected personnel and assets. There will be limited movement of empty MLPS [Main Line Passenger Services] trains for stabling and safeguarding,” said Prasa spokesperson Makhosini Mgitywa.

He said communication had been issued to all directly affected passengers.

"Where applicable, refunds are being processed," said Mgitywa.

One man was killed and several injured when a Shosholoza Meyl train collided with a goods train last week Wednesday near Bonny Doone Road in Horizon View, Roodepoort.

In a statement on Tuesday night, the RSR said it had concluded its preliminary investigation.

The findings were that the two trains were manually authorised on to the section of the track. The speed data showed the Prasa train was “travelling at 60km/h at the time of impact”.

In addressing the suspension of MLPS train services, Prasa engaged with the RSR on Wednesday.

Mgitywa said the agency was developing an intervention plan which would  be submitted to the regulator by Friday.

“The plan addresses the immediate risks associated with manual train authorisations, driver behaviour, and underlying issues of security and infrastructure."

Key elements of the plan are:

  • In the short term, review and strengthening of controls to effectively manage the risks of collisions/derailments inherent in manual authorisation of trains.
  • Medium-term implementation of the Prasa Re-Signalling Programme to modernise and provide signalling in Gauteng, Western Cape and KwaZulu Natal. This intervention includes the creation of a centralised Gauteng nerve centre that consolidates region-wide trains. Key benefits of this are standardisation of processes, compliance and supervision.
  • Engineering plan for all infrastructure and rolling stock interventions. This plan includes the installation of fencing and reinstatement of vandalised signalling.
  • Recovery of the Mabopane and central line services which entails the installation of fencing, electrical and signalling to normalise operations and improve safety.
  • Responding to the Competition Commission’s finding that Prasa was not allowing competition in the market, Mgitywa said: “Prasa is not the sole provider of inter-modal facilities as it is a function of local authorities who have several formal and informal inter-modal facilities that can be used by bus operators."

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