At least three people died and more than 600 were injured in yet another Passenger Rail Association of South Africa (Prasa) disaster, this time on the line between Mabopane and Soshanguve in Pretoria, at Mountain View railway station, yesterday.
It is believed there were up to 800 passengers on the two trains at the time of the collision, in which one train slammed into the rear of a stationary train at the platform.
The mayhem comes on the heels of Justice Cassim Sardiwalla’s High Court in Pretoria order confirming an agreement reached between the Rail Safety Regulator (RSR) and Prasa, part of which was that Prasa would submit a safety improvement plan.
The order was handed down after RSR agreed to withdraw its suspension of Prasa if Prasa agreed to numerous conditions, among which were that it had to report to the regulator and the court.
Prasa had taken the RSR to court following the regulator’s refusal to issue a safety permit after the Van Riebeeck Station train crash in Kempton Park in October last year.
In that incident, a passenger train slammed into a stationary train at the station, injuring more than 300 people, three of them seriously.
Yesterday, Prasa spokesperson Lillian Mofokeng told eNCA Prasa took “full responsibility for any incident that happens within our environment, especially here in Gauteng, because we are the operators. So one incident, it doesn’t matter where or how or what the causes are, we are operating and taking full responsibility.”
The RSR had indicated it would release a preliminary report today.
The line between Ga-Rankuwa, Mabopane and Soshanguve would remain closed for the time being.
President Cyril Ramaphosa said he had learned with sadness of the train accident. “Our thoughts are with those who lost their lives and their families. To the injured, I would like to wish you all a speedy recovery,” he said.
In 2015, 92 people were injured and security guard Tiisetso Napo died after a business express train hit another train at Denver station, in the southeast of Johannesburg.
In 2017 in Elandsfontein, a passenger train travelling between Johannesburg and Pretoria was hit by another train pulling out of a siding onto the same track, which left one person dead and more than 100 injured.
In a crash in January last year in Kroonstad, Free State, 21 people were killed and 200 injured when a truck tried to beat a train at a crossing.
On September 4, 100 people were injured in a head-on collision between two trains at the Eloff extension in Selby, Johannesburg.