Newly appointed Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula on Wednesday said a preliminary report showed that a collision involving a train and a tamping machine in Mamelodi, east of Pretoria, was caused when the brakes of the tamping machine failed.
The report further indicated that the signalling system in the area had not been functional for two years.
“This is a matter of serious concern due to the heightened risk of manual authorisation,” said Mbalula.
Mbalula added that the preliminary report had also revealed a communication breakdown between the crew of the tamping machine and the Centralised Train Control Centre.
The collision that occurred on Saturday between Eertstefabrieke and Pienaarspoort station left 64 passengers and two crew members with minor to moderate injuries.
Mbalula assured train commuters that “heads would roll” should negligence be found on the part of any operator.
Mbalula said railway safety had to be prioritised because unsafe conditions were detrimental to the growth of the economy.
He said that the last Railway Safety Regulator (RSR) report painted an unflattering picture of safety performance on railways.
“In 2017/18 a total number of 1,027 incidents of collisions during movement of rolling stock were reported by the RSR.”
He said this represented a two percent increase from the previous year.
“This is cause for alarm and must spur us into action to arrest this situation.”
Mbalula said he would announce an action plan that would speed up change and transformation in the transport sector in his first year in office.
– African News Agency (ANA)