The Railway Safety Regulator (RSR) has issued the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) with a temporary safety permit, allowing trains to continue operating.

The RSR oversees railway safety, while operators are responsible for managing the safety of their operations.

The regulator, however, confirmed on Thursday that it had issued a contravention notice to Prasa for operating trains on August 1 without being in possession of a valid safety permit.

Transport Minister Blade Nzimande has asked for a detailed report on the matter and instructed Prasa to immediately get its trains in working order‚ Eyewitness News reported on Thursday.

The temporary permit issued by the regulator is only valid until the end of August.

"It is the view of the RSR that the issuance of a temporary safety permit will assist Prasa in continuing with their operations but, most importantly‚ provide Prasa with another opportunity to develop robust action plans that will address the identified inadequacies‚" the regulator said in a statement.

Legislative obligation

"It is the RSR’s legislative obligation‚ as an authority responsible for overseeing rail safety‚ to ensure that operators demonstrate the highest levels of commitment towards the safety of railway operations for customers‚ staff‚ contractors‚ visitors and others who may be affected‚" RSR spokeswoman Madelein Williams said on Wednesday when the rail regulator announced the lapsing of the permit.

The regulator did not specify exactly what its concerns are around the safety of the Prasa trains.

The safety permit expired on Tuesday and the regulator decided not to issue a new one until it was satisfied that planned interventions by Prasa to address "safety concerns" had been carried out‚ said Williams.

"The RSR is of the opinion that Prasa cannot demonstrate to the RSR that it has the ability‚ commitment and resources to properly assess and effectively control the risks to assets and safety of its customers‚ staff‚ contractors‚ visitors and others who may be affected by its railway operations," she said.

"The Railway Safety Regulator Act gives the RSR powers to‚ among others‚ issue a prohibition directive or a contravention notice," Williams said.

""And if a contravention notice is ignored‚ we can issue Prasa with a penalty. Criminal charges can also be instituted," she said.