The Deputy Minister of Transport, Dikeledi Madgadzi, released the State of Safety Report today via a webinar on CNBC Africa. The Minister was joined by the Chairperson of the Railway Safety Regulator (RSR) Board, Mr. Boy Johannes Nobunga and Acting CEO, Ms. Tshepo Kgare as well as the CEOs of the three big operators who discussed issues and risks that impede railway safety.

Irrespective of the improvements in some areas, the statistics released as part of the State of Safety Report 2019/20 still paints a grim picture of safety within the railway industry. Despite an overall 24 per cent reduction in network traffic since the 2010/11 reporting period, operational occurrences per million train km still increased by six per cent, while security-related incidents per million train km increased dramatically by 105 per cent.

A total of 3 392 operational occurrences have been recorded during the 2019/20 reporting year. These occurrences include derailments, collisions, level crossing accidents and occurrences where people were stuck by moving trains. This is a 15 per cent decrease compared to the last reporting year. These operational occurrences resulted in a total of 1 210 injuries, representing a 55 per cent decrease compared to the previous financial year. Additionally, the statistics indicate a 24 per cent decrease in the fatality weighted injuries (FWI) as a result of operational occurrences.  The FWI is taken as a “statistical equivalent of 10 injuries to one death.

While platform-train interface (PTI) occurrences reduced by 27 per cent in the 2019/20 reporting period, PTI occurrences contributed to 20 per cent of the overall recorded operational occurrences in the 2019/20 reporting period.

During the period under review, TFR, South Africa’s major freight operator, experienced a 28,9 per cent decrease in train km since the 2010/11 reporting period from a rounded 46 million train km to 32,7 million train km as recorded during the 2019/20 reporting period. The tonnages transported by TFR have, however, continued to increase from the same year, indicating that their operations are dominated by longer, heavier trains.

Since the 2010/11 reporting period, PRASA experienced a 32 per cent decrease in train km and a 75 per cent decrease in passenger km, while Gautrain achieved an increase of 643 per cent in train km and a 41 per cent in passenger km respectively from the first full year of operations in 2011/12 to the 2019/20 reporting period.

The 2019/20 period has seen egregious acts of criminal activity being targeted at major operators with an increase in the prevalence of theft and vandalism of rail infrastructure. An increase of eight per cent in the total number of security-related incidents has been reported when compared to the previous reporting period. This can be attributed to the open nature of the network and the lack of security which exposes commuters, trains, and railway infrastructure to criminal activity.

“The grim numbers in the report confirms that the state of safety of our railways remains dire. More must be done so that we turn the tide and ensure that the massive investments in rail infrastructure result in tangible improvements in safety”, said Tshepo Kgare, RSR Acting CEO.

The Railway Safety Regulator (RSR) is an agency of the Department of Transport whose mandate is to develop and enforce a robust railway safety management system for the country.  In compliance with Section 20 of the National Railway Safety Regulator Act, the RSR is required to produce and submit an annual State of Safety Report to Parliament on the safety of railways in the country. The aim of the Annual State of Safety Report is to provide an assessment of the safety performance of the Railway Operators operating within the borders of South Africa and is primarily produced to fulfil the RSR’s mandate as required by the Act.

To view the CNBC footage click the following link https://www.rsr.org.za/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/CNBC-VIDEO.mp4

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