Untu: Railway regulator not doing enough to ensure train safety

The regulator says that it is concerned about the recent train accidents and has ordered a stop to manual authorisation to avoid human error, which it says was the reason behind the Germiston crash.

Clean-up operations begin at the scene of a train crash in Kroonstad, Free State on 6 January, 2018. Picture: Sethembiso Zulu/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - The United National Transport Union (Untu) has accused the Railway Safety Regulator of not doing enough to monitor the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) to ensure train safety.

The regulator held a media briefing in Pretoria on Wednesday, releasing its preliminary findings into the deadly Kroonstad train crash that killed 19 passengers.

In a separate train accident, 220 commuters were hurt when a train rear-ended another train at the Geldenhuis station in Germiston on Tuesday.

The regulator says that it is concerned about the recent train accidents and has ordered a stop to manual authorisation to avoid human error, which it says was the reason behind the Germiston crash.

However, Untu's Sonja Carstens says that the regulator has been warned repeatedly.

"The Railway Safety Regulator never enforced its own order. On 13 December last year, Untu warned the regulator that it will be a question of time before someone dies because you're not enforcing this and there are still a lot of incidents."

The regulator says that the exact cause of the Kroonstad crash is not yet known and an independent board of inquiry will be set up.

Meanwhile, Untu has been given the go-ahead to call a strike among its members who work for Prasa.

The union has accused the company of not adhering to a wage agreement reached last year.

It says that Prasa has been negotiating in bad faith.