Pretoria Train Collision – Rail system desperately needs upgrade

Fred Nel MPL

Spokesperson on Local Government

Reports that two trains collided head on in Saulsville, Pretoria this morning sharply draws attention to rail safety and the urgent need to upgrade signalling systems and rolling stock in Gauteng.

The current trains used by the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) are technologically outdated and does not adhere to international safety standards. Modern trains can override driver error and prevent accidents like these from happening. However, a modern signalling system for this is also required. The Gautrain possesses this technology which makes it a safer mode of transport.

The current configuration of old trains and an outdated signalling system allows for drivers to circumvent signals which, in many instances, lead to these types of accidents.

Although the cause of this morning’s accident has not yet been determined it still highlights the safety deficiencies of the trains currently being used in South Africa.

The Rail Safety Regulator must investigate this accident as speedily as possible in order to determine the cause and prevent similar accidents in future.

PRASA must also improve its safety standards by instituting regular mandatory refresher courses and testing for train drivers.

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