News24

Rovos crash: brakes probed

2010-04-22 16:03

Johannesburg - The Railway Safety Regular was investigating possible brake failure as the cause of a Rovos Rail train crash that killed three people, an official said on Thursday.

"We've reached the stage where we are beginning to interview people who were involved, including the technical staff on the train," said Railway Safety Regulator spokesperson Lawrence Venkile.

"We would also want to recreate the accident," he said.

Venkile said investigators were focusing on "whether standard operating procedures were followed to the letter" during the attachment of the locomotives.

"We are also looking at the integrity of the braking system and if it was functioning as it should," he said.

Three women employed by Rovos Rail died - two on the scene and one in hospital - after the luxury train, carrying dozens of foreign tourists, derailed near Pretoria on Wednesday morning.

One of the women was four months pregnant and went into labour at the time of the accident. The baby also died.

Routine change

The Rovos Rail trip had started in Cape Town and stopped outside Pretoria for a routine change from an electric to a steam locomotive.

The train started moving downhill after the electric locomotive was removed, but before the steam locomotive was attached. Several coaches derailed, falling on their sides across the tracks.

There were 55 passengers on board - mostly foreign tourists - and 30 Rovos Rail employees.

About 40 of the passengers were American tourists, of whom ten were taken to hospital.

United States Embassy spokesperson Sharon Hudson-Dean said most of them had been discharged by Thursday morning.

"The information is that four Americans remained in hospital this morning," she told Sapa.

There were also South African, German, British and French tourists on board.

Metrorail said it would take at least two days to clear the scene.

Special arrangements for customers

Amid wide-spread disruptions to its services, it had made special arrangements for its customers.

Those in Pretoria could travel to Bosman station, from where they would be bussed to Centurion station.

Customers from Johannesburg would be bussed from Centurion to Bosman station, said spokesperson Nana Zenani.

Meanwhile, Shosholoza Meyl passengers travelling between Johannesburg, Komatipoort and Musina were advised to note several route changes as a result of the accident.

It advised passengers in a statement that they would be transported via bus to the nearest available stations that were able to operate normally.

Rovos Rail offers luxurious trips across southern Africa, with a 28-day Cape Town to Cairo trip.