Speed blamed for goods train crash at PMB station

2009-11-04 00:00

SPEEDING may have caused the derailment of a goods train at the Pietermaritzburg station yesterday morning.

The accident, which happened at about 5 am, left the driver Sweetie Maphalala (30) with a broken arm and her conductor, Thokozani Dlamini, with injuries to his back and body.

Transnet Freight Rail spokesman Mdu Dlamini said that although they are still investigating, preliminary investigations revealed that the train was uncontrollable. “The train ran away and its locomotives were separated from it. They were found a distance from the carriages.”

The train, which was transporting maize from Johannesburg to Durban, went off the rails as it reached the Pietermaritzburg station. Seventeen of its carriages were damaged; five were lying on their side while 10 were completely mangled.

Railway Safety Regulator (RSR) staff said yesterday they rushed to the scene of the accident to conduct an investigation.

They said the fully-loaded grain train may have been speeding, causing the driver to lose control of the locomotive.

“Railway traffic on the Natal main line is affected, and it is not clear at this stage when it will be re-opened.

“The RSR will be conducting a comprehensive investigation into the state of the rolling stock, infrastructure and operating procedures to ascertain all the factors which could have contributed to the accident,” said a statement released yesterday.

“We remain concerned that incidents of this nature not only have a direct bearing on the cost of doing business through escalating maintenance and accident costs, but also have a serious impact on the economy.”

A small group of people stood at the accident scene, staring in disbelief. One of the guards working at the station remarked, “It’s good that this is a goods train because if it were carrying people they would be dead.”

The railway line was uprooted and one of the locomotives was at least 200 metres from the accident scene.

“We always tell people not to walk on the railway and this is why. If you get caught in such an accident you will never be found,” he continued.

The people living in the area said they did not hear anything.

Derrick Banks of ER24 said the driver and her assistant suffered multiple injuries. They were admitted to Pietermaritzburg Medi-Clinic. “They are in a serious but stable condition,” he said.

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