Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA) Archives
Cape Town - A last-minute reprieve has kept Metrorail trains moving after the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) approached the court to have the suspension of its safety permit by the Rail Safety Regulator (RSR) revoked.

The case was postponed to Thursday and if the court denies Prasa’s request, Metrorail services could be halted. Prasa spokesperson Nana Zenani said the matter regarding the suspension of Prasa permits was in before the courts.

On Saturday, Prasa informed the public that it was seeking to engage the RSR requesting the regulator reconsider its intention to suspend the Safety Permit.

The suspension follows a collision between two trains at Riebeek Park station in Kempton Park, Johannesburg, which injured 300 people.

Zenani said: “Prasa sought to engage RSR to reconsider its decision and confine the suspension to the corridor where the accident took place.”

Zenani said the meeting between Prasa and RSR could not reach a solution, leaving Prasa with no option but to proceed with the court application.

United National Transport Union spokesperson Sonja Carstens said the suspension of the safety operating permit would have a devastating impact on the poor who rely on Metrorail.

Mayco member for transport and urban development Brett Herron called on Transport Minister Blade Nzimande to step in if the regulator suspended Prasa’s operating permit.

Herron said the service in Cape Town requires urgent intervention to improve the rolling stock to at least 88 full train sets.

“The carriages that have been damaged need to be repaired.”

DA spokesperson for Transport Manny de Freitas said Prasa’s annual report indicated that losses increased from R533 million in 2015/16 to R927m in 2016/17 despite an increased in the operational subsidy from R4.9 billion to R5.2bn.

Operating expenses increased by R1.3bn (that’s 15%) while revenue decreased by R392m (12%).

De Freitas said Prasa has spent only R6.7bn of its allocated R13.8bn for capital expenditure, that’s only 48%.

“This is money which could have been used to significantly improve infrastructure and service delivery. It is unbelievably despite there being money our rail infrastructure continues to be one from the dark ages, as the money isn’t spent.”

Cape Argus