The Rail Safety Regulator (RSR) has blamed human error for yesterday’s rear-end collision between two Metrorail trains at a station in Germiston.
And, the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) may be facing a R5 million fine for ignoring a directive from RSR which prohibited manual signalling.
RSR spokesperson Madelein Williams said Prasa appealed the contravention, and a notice was issued against the agency for failing to cease operations under abnormal working conditions, which included faulty signals.
“Prasa submitted a corrective plan to the RSR following the prohibition and the RSR subsequently informed Prasa that notwithstanding its corrective plan and the economic implications to Prasa for the prohibition to operate, the prohibition directive still stood,” Williams told The Citizen.
The matter is the subject of an appeal dispute. “On this particular section, trains had to be manually authorised … since the normal signalling system was not available due to problems associated with signal cables,” said Williams.
According to RSR’s preliminary report, Train 4317 was manually authorised to enter a platform at Geldenhuys station, where it stopped because of a “technical problem”.
While the train was at the platform being worked on by technicians, Train 0723 was authorised to enter, resulting in the crash which left 159 people with minor injuries, 67 with moderate injuries, and the crew of both trains with minor injuries.
“Information received from the RSR inspectors indicate human error can be attributed to the Train 0723 being authorised into the same platform, which subsequently resulted in a rear-end collision,” said Williams.
According to RSR’s state of safety report for 2016-17, faulty manual authorisation accounted for 8% of collisions between trains.
“The declared direct costs of incidents increased from R889 million to R961 million during this reporting period,” it stated.