'Atteridgeville train driver is diligent'

The train driver who crashed in Atteridgeville was never before involved in a similar crash, says Prasa.

The scene where two trains collided in Atteridgeville on 31 January 2013, injuring more than 300 people. Picture: Netcare 911.

JOHANNESBURG - The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) on Saturday said the operator of a train that crashed outside Pretoria was one of its best employees.

The company dismissed claims by the National Transport Movement (NTM), that Gert Kotze - who has worked for the company for 36 years - was responsible for a similar crash on a previous occasion.

The transport union made further claims Kotze was roped in at the last hour to help drive the train as there was a shortage of staff - due to a strike by the union.

Prasa spokesperson Lillian Mofokeng said throughout his career, Kotze had been an outstanding driver.

"He's never, ever had any questionable performance."

She said it was important to emphasise the fact that the company trained their drivers and had "refresher" sessions for all of them every two years.

Metrorail employees affiliated to NTM have been on strike for almost two weeks, demanding to be recognised by employers.

A passenger train on Thursday crashed into the back of another train in Atteridgeville, after cables were stolen and the train's signalling system had to be operated manually.

More than 300 people, including schoolchildren, were injured in the crash.

Train services between Cor Delfos and Saulsville have been affected as a result of the crash.