The Train Operator of the public coach Metrorail passenger trains that collided at Denver station‚ killing a train guard and leaving more than 240 passengers injured in April 2015‚ had received warnings before the incident – one of them for serious safety transgressions.
The report of the board of inquiry headed by the Railway Safety Regulator noted that a “Mr Mabuza”‚ the driver of the stationery Metroplus Express Train 0600‚ which was rammed from behind by Metroplus Express Train 1602‚ received the first warning for passing a signal at danger in October 2010 and also for overshooting a platform in April 2014.
A Mrs Sambo‚ the driver of train 1602 received a warning in October 2010 for arriving late for duty and the subsequent late departure of the train. She was slapped with a three-month written warning.
Though the Railway Safety Regulator stated that the intention of the inquiry was not to apportion blame but to establish what happened‚ Sambo‚ who is still recovering from injuries sustained in the accident‚ has emerged as the main cause of the accident.
The report stated that: “The cause of the accident under review can be attributed to human error on the part of the driver of Business Express Train 1602‚ who was speeding and failed to apply brakes timorously to avoid the collision.”
Sambo was driving at 91km/h on a 70km/h zone and only applied brakes about 332m from the point of impact.
However‚ the report noted that the lack of substance abuse tests on Mabuza may have contributed to the accident as his fitness could not be ascertained.
“In this regard‚ the mere fact that (Mabuza) could not see the aspect of signal DN11 must be considered with caution‚” the report stated.
The Passenger Rail Agency of SA did not emerge unscathed‚ with the inquiry slamming its inadequate infrastructure management; shortage of key personnel‚ including technicians‚ train drivers and train control officers; as well as a lack of proper communication between drivers and control rooms.
How it happened
– 6am: Metroplus Express Train departs Pretoria Station‚ followed by Metroplus Express Train 1602 from the same station 15 minutes later‚ en route to Park Station in Johannesburg.
– 7.06: Train 0600 stops at signal DN11‚ Denver station due to driver’s inability to see aspect of the signal
– 7.10: Train 1602 rams the stationer train 0600 from the rear