The Railway Safety Regulator (RSR) has lifted its ban preventing the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) using manual authorisation for train operations, subject to certain conditions, the regulator said on Saturday.
Following a meeting between the senior management of the RSR and Prasa on Friday, the regulator had taken a decision to lift the prohibition directive issued to Prasa with immediate effect and to invoke section 45a of the National Railway Safety Regulator Act in instances where Prasa contravened the directive, the RSR said in a statement.
Prasa uses manual authorisation when railway traffic lights malfunction, and train control officials manually instruct train drivers on whether they need to stop for another train to pass or if they can continue.
“Prasa submitted a corrective action plan to the RSR detailing how they intend to address issues pertaining to manual authorisations of trains during degraded train operations. The RSR has considered the corrective action plan and is satisfied that Prasa has adequately demonstrated their commitment to address safety concerns raised by the regulator,” the statement said.
The RSR had instructed Prasa to implement the corrective action plan with immediate effect and to comply with strict special conditions imposed by the RSR. The conditions were developed to prioritise areas of concern and to ensure the safe movement of trains at all times.
The conditions related to the improvement of the telecommunication system, strengthening supervision, development of verbal communication protocols, and improved monitoring. Prasa would be expected to submit monthly progress reports.
“On its part, the RSR will further strengthen its own monitoring efforts through targeted inspections to ensure full compliance with the said conditions. To that extent, should Prasa default on any of the conditions the prohibition directive will be reinstated. The RSR expects unequivocal compliance with all special conditions and urge Prasa to commit to the improvement of safe railway operations.
“The RSR is encouraged by the commitment that Prasa has shown over the past few days, especially the assurances given by the acting group CEO and acting Prasa rail CEO that corrective action within Prasa is already underway,” the RSR said.
According to media reports, the RSR issued the directive after Prasa’s apparent failure to prevent train accidents. The most recent was in Geldenhuys station in Germiston in Ekurhuleni in Gauteng earlier this week. More than 200 passengers were reportedly injured when a train smashed into the back of a stationary locomotive. The RSR said the accident was caused by human error.
– African News Agency (ANA)