The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) has warned that a ban on manually authorising trains will negatively impact on Metrorail commuters.
The Rail Safety Regulator (RSR) on Wednesday enforced the ban, after two trains collided in Germiston, Gauteng, on Tuesday morning. About 200 people were injured in the incident.
The RSR had determined that human error had caused the accident. At the time of the accident, trains had to be manually authorised by train control officials as a result of normal signalling systems not being available.
PRASA said in a statement on Thursday that cable theft, which impacts on its signalling systems, and vandalism of its rail infrastructure had contributed to recent accidents.
“The use of manual authorisation by Metrorail is not by design. The scourge of cable theft and the continued support of that theft by clandestine industries continues to cost PRASA and government millions of rands that could be used to upgrade passenger rail and create job opportunities,” it added.
The rail agency further said that, should the prohibition directive hold, Metrorail could expect a 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 owing to the sheer scale of the number of passengers,” PRASA stated.
PRASA has agreed to submit corrective measures to the RSR that will ensure the safety of passengers during degraded conditions where manual authorisation is in operation.