The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) has warned that the prohibition directive issued by the Railway Safety Regulator (RSR) on Wednesday could spark public outrage, resulting in trains being set alight or vandalised.

The prohibition directive prohibits Prasa from using manual authorisation. The decision to issue Prasa with the prohibition directive comes after an horrific collision at the Geldenhuys Station in Gauteng on Tuesday. The RSR has accused Prasa of  operating under conditions which are a threat or that might be a threat to safe railway operations.

Due to cable theft, trains in Cape Town are forced to be manually authorised proceed to the next station. The central line remains suspended since yesterday after a security guard was shot.

On Wednesday night the Department of Transport, RSR and Prasa were locked in meetings to deal with the issue of the prohibition directive. The meeting was intended to highlight the huge impact of the prohibition directive on train operations across the Western Cape, Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.   

 Approximately 2.6-million passenger trips will be affected across the three provinces with Gauteng alone undertaking 1.5-million passenger trips per day. The order will effectively push all those passenger numbers onto road-based public transportation. Which indicates that traffic volumes could also increase.

 In the Western Cape, Metrorail with more than 40% of public transport market share and undertaking 650 000 passenger trips per day will also be affected. The use of manual authorisation by Metrorail is not by design, however, it comes from the ongoing attack on railways by thieves who continue to damage its signaling infrastructure by stealing cables and signaling equipment.

In a statement, Prasa said that the crime against the countries rail infrastructure cannot be managed by them, however, it requires them to treat it as a national crisis and it would need national intervention.

Prasa also said that should the prohibition directive have influence, Metrorail can expect huge backlash from the public that might result in trains being set on fire or vandalised.  Millions of passengers who have bought tickets, which are the only tickets they can afford, will be severely affected while Metrorail will be unable to provide alternative transportation or refunds due to the sheer scale of the number of passengers.

All parties agreed that Prasa would submit corrective measures to the RSR that will ensure the safety of passengers during degraded conditions where manual authorisation is in operation.

 

Picture: Ground UP

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