Passenger rail agency Prasa’s managers face an onerous decision each day: can they in good conscience operate their Metrorail trains to convey 1.7-million commuters to and from work, or is it just too unsafe to travel by train in SA? The Rail Safety Regulator leans towards the latter. Earlier in October it again suspended Prasa’s safety permit on the grounds that the rail agency cannot demonstrate that it has the ability, commitment and resources to assess and control the safety risks arising from its railway operations. This is a step the regulator is taking with increasing frequency. To avoid the entire passenger rail network being shut down, Prasa took the regulator to court. This resulted in an out-of-court settlement and the regulator rescinded Prasa’s suspension. The court also ordered Prasa to comply with the safety requirements set out by the regulator.

This means the trains are running and the economy, such as it is, continues to function. The fact is, however, that n...

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