Railway safety: Fatalities down, injuries to commuters up by 23%

Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula. (Kamva Somdyala, News24).
Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula. (Kamva Somdyala, News24).

There's been a decrease in railway fatalities, but an increase in the number of commuters injured due to "operational occurrences", according to the latest railway safety statistics revealed by Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula on Tuesday. 

The statistics are contained in the annual State of Safety report, compiled by the Railway Safety Regulator. 

Operational occurrences include derailments, collisions, level-crossing accidents and incidents where people were struck by moving trains.

Speaking in Stellenbosch, in the Western Cape, Mbalula said 3 990 operational occurrences were recorded for the 2018/2019 reporting year, which ran from April 1, 2018, to March 31, 2019.

The report also revealed that KwaZulu-Natal, North West and the Western Cape accounted for more than half of all level-crossing occurrences (56%), while of the 370 derailments reported, 29 people were injured and one person died.

"Operational occurrences have seen an 11% decrease compared to the last reporting year," said Mbalula."

A total of 375 fatalities were reported (as a result of occurrences), representing a 17% decrease compared to the previous financial year, with 2 660 injuries reported - representing a 23% increase from the year before," said Mbalula.

'If I fail, I'll go' 

"I wish to reiterate that, while all of these may seem like mere statistics, let us note that human beings are being lost in our rail environment."Fixing the railway system is my top priority," Mbalula continued.

"If I fail, I won't wait for a call from the president, I'll go.

"We have to get it right, for our people. We have to improve railway capacity and efficiency," he added.

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