Strike linked to Atteridgeville train crash?

Prasa says a serious train crash in Atteridgeville may be linked to an ongoing strike by NTM.

A mangled train, involved in an accident with another train in Atteridgeville, on 31 January 2013. Picture: Netcare

JOHANNESBURG - The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) on Thursday said cable theft along a Pretoria railway line, which led to a serious train crash, may be linked to the ongoing strike by the National Transport Movement (NTM).

Metrorail employees affiliated to the union have been on strike for almost two weeks now.

Prasa management has laid malicious damage to property charges against its leadership, after four trains were torched in Gauteng.

About 300 people were injured, two of them critically, when two trains with each other near the Kalafong Station on Thursday morning.

Prasa CEO Mosenngwa Mofi said the agency will investigate whether the strike can be linked to the cable theft.

"We do have strong suspicions that there may be a link with the current strike."

NTM members are striking after Prasa and national carrier South African Airways failed to recoginse the union.

The union denies all claims made by Prasa.

But Mofi said it was not the first time they suspected NTM of vandalising their property.

"In the past week alone, we had four incidents of arson and this can be directly linked to strike."

NTM has threatened legal action against Prasa.

SERVICE DISRUPTIONS

Prasa says it expects significant disruptions on the route from Pretoria to Atteridgeville while repairs are done to the trains involved in the crash.

Mofi said the almost 20,000 people that use the route daily will be temporarily inconvenienced.

"Those coaches that are damaged will be out of service for a while."

He said that means the capacity to carry people during peak times would be much less.