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More work still to be done on SA’s railway safety, says RSR chair

According to the annual State of Railway Safety report, nearly 300 people were killed after being struck by trains on railway tracks in the 2018/19 financial year.

Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula at a press briefing on the state of rail safety in South Africa in Stellenbosch on 1 October 2019. Picture:@SAgovnews/Twitter

JOHANNESBURG - The Railway Safety Regulator (RSR) has committed to doing more to raise the standard of the trains following a safety report painting a grim picture of the service.

On Tuesday, Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula released the annual State of Railway Safety report, which revealed nearly 300 people were killed after being struck by trains on railway tracks in the 2018/19 financial year.

The report also revealed that injuries that came as a result of operational incidents, which included derailments and accidents, had increased to 2,660. That was a 23% increase from the previous financial year.

The safety report once again highlighted the plight of commuters who risked their lives each time they travelled on the trains. Trains that continued to face a multitude of problems included broken infrastructure, arson, and vandalism.

RSR chairperson Dr Nomusa Qunta said something had to change.

“We cannot be complacent, the picture that has been painted says there is a lot of work that needs to be done.”

However, she said the Railway Safety Bill, which was intended to address the regulatory and capacity gaps in the provision of this service, hadn’t moved.

“We just had a new administration this year, so it’s still work in progress that is going through the parliamentary processes.”

Mbalula said while there were still plenty of issues in the rail sector, fixing the railway system remained top of his priorities.

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