CAPE TOWN - The United National Transport Union (Untu) has appealed to the public to take greater care at railway crossings, this after four more people died when a car they were traveling in collided with a train at the R500 and Carletonville crossing in Magaliesburg near Krugersdorp at the weekend.
According to Untu general secretary Steve Harris, the incident, which happened on Saturday, has brought the death toll at level crossings over the past two weeks to 11.
“Untu urges the public, especially pedestrians and drivers, to adhere to the road safety signs issued in terms of the road safety act. Unfortunately, far too many of our road signs get stolen or vandalised. Therefore, motorist and pedestrians must always stop to check if it is safe before they cross a railway line, irrespective of whether or not there are signs.”
Untu further said it welcomed the efforts of the railway safety regulator (RSR), Transnet and the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) who are currently busy with a joint road show to educate communities about the importance of safety at level crossings.
“The union believes that the department of transport and the department of education should also come on board with the funding of campaigns on television and radio stations and more aggressive targeting of schools near level crossings. As a nation, we will only be able to combat these incidents by constantly educating communities.
“Accidents at level crossings are deadly and not only for the passengers or pedestrians the train has hit, but also for the train crew on the train,” said Harris.
In April, seven workers died when a train collided with a bakkie at the Buttskop level crossing in Blackheath in Cape Town.
In January, a passenger train collided with a truck on a level crossing at Geneva Station between Hennenman and Kroonstad in the Free State, killing 21 people and injuring 254 people.
“Depending on the speed, a train will only come to a complete standstill when it applies its emergency break procedure within 500 metres and one kilometre. There is nothing a train driver can do to prevent a collision if a motorist does not take caution,” said Harris.
African News Agency/ANA