The Railway Safety Regulator in South Africa has said security-related incidents have increased by 105% since 2010. The regulator, an agency of the national Transport Department, said even though there were improvements in some areas, the general state of rail safety in the country was still concerning. The body released its State of Railway Safety Report for the 2019/2020 financial year recently.
Officials said rail transport had the potential to become an efficient and climate sustainable means towards economic recovery but concerns around safety diminish this opportunity. Despite a 24% overall reduction in network traffic since the 2010/2011 financial year, operational incidents per one-million train kilometres have increased by 6%.
Railway Safety Regulator Board Chairperson, Boy Johannes Nobunga, said this could be attributed to the country’s open rail network and lack of security, exposing commuters, trains and infrastructure to criminal activity. “As a regulator, we are extremely concerned that even though there are improvements in certain areas, the general state of rail safety is still not where it should be.”
Nobunga says during the 2019/2020 financial year, almost 3,400 operational incidents were recorded. The Railway Safety Regulator is mandated to develop and enforce a robust safety management system.