Railway crossing booms often damaged
Jana Breytenbach, Die Burger
Cape Town - The booms at the railway crossing in Blackheath, where an accident claimed the lives of ten children last week, have been hit by vehicles 27 times this year.
Metrorail, the Passenger Rail Association (Prasa), the Railway Safety Regulator and the police are once again looking at ways to make railway crossings safer.
Carvel Webb, managing director of the Railway Safety Regulator, revealed that this body has spent the past 14 months planning the optimal solution to prevent loss of life at railway crossings.
This is intended to prevent loss of life such as in the accident last Wednesday, when a train crashed into a minibus taxi.
Bridges 'too expensive'
"Crossings should be closed or bridges should be built," Webb suggested.
Robin Carlisle, Western Cape minister of transport and public works, said the suggestion that all railway crossings be replaced with bridges is impractical.
According to Carlisle, it will cost between R30m and R40m to build one bridge at a crossing, so it is not financially possible to replace the country's 1 100 railway crossings with bridges.
Carlisle had hard words for drivers: "We will continue to catch irresponsible drivers with strict law enforcement," he said, adding that he can't make all the roads "idiot-proof".
"Drivers must take responsibility when they get behind the wheel."
Metrorail spokesperson Riana Scott said it is car drivers and not train drivers who should be more careful.
"Trains already ride with their headlights on, decrease speed when they approach a crossing and use their sirens. Obeying the road rules is up to the driver."