Manual Authorisation May Have Caused Joburg Train Crash – FEDUSA

4 September 2018

The Federation of Unions of South Africa (FEDUSA) has called for a speedy investigation of the real causes of the passenger trains crash at the Eloff extension in Selby, Johannesburg on Tuesday morning especially the high likelihood that manual authorisation may have caused the horror accident. Paramedics estimate that 112 people including children were injured when two passenger trains, one travelling from Booysens Station and the other from Faraday Station collided at round 8.00am.

The United National Transport Union (UNTU), FEDUSA’s affiliate in the passenger rail sector is adamant that both trains had been manually authorised to be on the route, a procedure known as Manual Train Authorisation or MTA.

“When trains are manually authorised to continue a route, they are more exposed to human error as what happened this morning when the two trains collided on the same route,” says UNTU General Secretary Steve Harris.

MTA’s were also the cause of the Elandsfontein train accident on 1 June 2017 during which one commuter died and 55 were injured when two trains collided. MTA’s were also to blame for the Geldenhuys train accident on 9 January 2018 when two trains collided leaving more than 200 commuters injured.

“Enough is enough. The Railway Safety Regulator (RSR) and the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) are liable and must be held accountable by Government for their reckless behaviour with the lives of train crews and commuters”.

The Selby train crash comes shortly after UNTU decried the RSR’s extension of Prasa safety permit by another 12 months.

“Prasa’s safety permit would have lapsed at midnight on 31 August 2018. Prasa is the operator of Metrorail trains. UNTU’s repeated warnings that Prasa is a ticking time bomb operating death machines due to its inability to combat crime and vandalism, its inability to do proper maintenance and its inability to procure spares has so far fell on deaf ears,” said Harris.

“The poorest of the poor, the commuters using these trains, should know that more that 50% of Prasa’s trains nationwide operate on MTA because the signalling systems are not working”.

FEDUSA General Secretary Dennis George slammed the government for allowing the RSR to grant Prasa a safety permit for another year fully aware of unsafe conditions on Prasa trains and rail infrastructure.


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FEDUSA is the largest politically non-aligned trade union federation in South Africa and represents a diverse membership from a variety of sectors in industry.  See for more information.

For interviews please contact:

Dennis George

FEDUSA General Secretary

084 805 1529

Steve Harris

UNTU General Secretary

Issued by:

Frank Nxumalo

FEDUSA Research and Media Officer

072 637 8096