WATCH | Train surfing youngsters have union up in arms

2019-10-29 19:58
A man trying to catch a train. (Screen grab via News24)

A man trying to catch a train. (Screen grab via News24)

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An 11-year-old boy has been captured on video inciting his friends to join him in train surfing one of Transnet's goods trains in KwaZulu-Natal.

According to general secretary of the United Transport Union (UNTU), Steve Harris, the boy was arrested by the police over the weekend.

Police spokesperson Captain Nqobile Gwala however says that no such case was registered with the Verulam police station on this matter.

Harris said the 11-year-old, who was described as the ringleader, incited his friends to join him in jumping onto moving wagons of a train belonging to Transnet Freight Rail as it passed on the province's northern line.

"The children take advantage of the fact that the trains on this route must keep to a speed restriction of 15km/h, as they are entering an area where pedestrians cross the railway line without looking or don't realise the speed of the approaching train. 

Increase in fatalities

"According to the recent figures in the State of Rail Safety Report of the Railway Safety Regulator (RSR) there has been 375 fatalities due to operational occurrences and 2 660 injuries due to operational occurrences in the previous financial year. At the same time there was a 36% increase in fatalities due to safety related occurrences," said Harris.  

Although UNTU disputes this figure and believes it only reflects a fraction of the true state of rail safety, the statistics known to the RSR is of great concern to it.  

"Parents must teach their children that it is no joke playing near a railway line, not even to mention a moving train. These children are not only putting their own lives at risk, but also the lives of the train driver and the train assistant as they are forced to watch the children playing on the wagons instead of keeping their eyes on the railway lines and on the signals they are passing. 

"To make matters worse, it is the train driver and the train assistant who will be charged if anything happens to the children putting their jobs in jeopardy. This is not even considering the emotional trauma the train driver and train assistant goes through if they cannot prevent an injury," said Harris. 

According to Harris, the RSR must target these areas to create awareness for train safety at schools and in local communities, get the community to identify the specific children and to speak to their parents.

He appealed to all UNTU trains drivers to immediately report similar incidents to the union so that UNTU can ensure that it is reported to the SAPS so it can act. 

Read more on:    transnet  |  untu  |  durban  |  transport
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