The level crossing in Buttskop where 10 children died. Picture: Brenton Geach

Johannesburg - There has been a 26.6 percent drop in collisions between trains and road vehicles at level crossings, Transport Deputy Minister Sindisiwe Chikunga said on Monday.

“Even though the number of these collisions accounts for a very small percentage of the overall incidents within the rail network, the number of fatalities as a result of such an incident is very high,” Chikunga said in a speech prepared for delivery.

“Level crossing incidents generally result in serious collisions, due to the impact of the train on the road vehicles,” she said.

This was according to the Railway Safety Regulator report for the years 2011/12 and 2012/12.

Chikunga was speaking for the Rail Safety Regulator at the Koelenhof Level-Crossing Public Awareness Safety Campaign in the Western Cape.

She said the RSR recorded 123 accidents throughout the country in 2011/12, in which 10 people died and 40 were injured. There were 91 accidents recorded in 2012/13.

In the Western Cape, there were 17 level-crossing accidents in 2011/12, in which two people died and six were injured.

The preliminary figure for 2012/13 was 20 accidents with no deaths and 13 injuries, said Chikunga.

She said the industry had experienced 2375 injuries and 425 deaths as a result of operations and security incidents.

There was a 21 percent increase in vandalism and a 10.6 percent increase in rolling stock fires.

“This is of great concern to the department of transport and RSR as this increases delays in running of service by operators, and contributes to the overall overcrowding of the passenger rail system during peak hours,” said Chikunga. - Sapa