RSR steps in to prevent train crashes

Monday, December 14, 2009

Pretoria - The Railway Safety Regulator (RSR) has issued an Improvement Directive to major railway operators following the collision between two Shosholoza Meyl passenger trains.

The Directive has been issued in terms of Section 36 of the National Rail Safety Regulator Act to all operators using Radio Train Order (RTO) to modify their procedures accordingly with immediate effect, to prevent the recurrence of such accidents in future

The RSR is currently finalising its investigation on the accident which took place last Monday, outside Potchefstroom, claiming one life and injuring 80 persons.

The RSR has determined that a significant shortcoming exists in the operating procedures for RTO controlled sections, which had a direct bearing on the accident.

RTO is normally used for relatively light density main and branch lines, with unmanned stations utilising manually controlled points or switches.

"Movement of trains on such sections is controlled via radio communication amongst the drivers and a controller at a central point," it said.

The regulator asserted that it has noted statements in the media implying that "human error" was partly to blame for the accident.

"Although the RSR's investigation is still underway, initial indications do point out that human error may have been one of the contributory factors, however, this may have possibly been prevented if the necessary procedures had been in place," the regulator said.