Carol Paton Writer at Large

Statistics compiled by the Railway Safety Regulator (RSR) show that the state of passenger rail infrastructure has deteriorated drastically over the past 12 months, despite a new board, new management and a turnaround strategy put in place at the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) by transport minister Blade Nzimande. Prasa is also yet to table an acceptable Annual Safety Improvement Plan to the RSR, which was ordered by court in October. Two versions of the plan have been rejected.  The regulator keeps a record of each instance a train driver asks the train control officer for verbal permission to proceed on a section of the line, due to a fault usually with the signal equipment or rails. This is called “manual authorisation”. Between January 2018 and February 2019, monthly manual authorisations grew by 400% and occurred on more than 1.2-million occasions. The statistics are in an internal document leaked to the United National Transport Union (Untu) in 2019. Manual authorisatio...

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