Grobler Street was a hive of activity as Tshwane Emergency Services, ambulances, metro police and the SAPS assisted passengers trapped inside coaches after a moving train collided with a stationary one at 9am.
Gauteng Metrorail spokesperson Lillian Mofokeng said two commuters were confirmed dead at the scene.
The others died later.
President Cyril Ramaphosa said he learnt with sadness of the accident and sent his condolences to the families of the victims.
Tshwane mayor Solly Msimanga, who arrived at the scene soon after the crash, said he did not want to speculate on the cause, but he had previously raised concerns regarding the railway infrastructure, in particular the north corridor, which seemed to have outdated core signals and was accident-prone.
“This corridor in particular reports accidents every year, and I think this is something that needs to receive some serious attention from Prasa.”
Msimanga called for an urgent meeting with Prasa to discuss upgrades.
Vadi said he hoped communities faced the sad reality that where cables are stolen, lives are put at risk.
“Prasa is not within our jurisdiction but we really have to step up operations here because the infrastructure is old
and ageing and we can’t have a situation where there is a crash every six months.”
Emergency services worked to free commuters who were trapped in the second train before taking them to hospital. The bodies of those trapped underneath the train were taken to the mortuary.
Mofokeng said from information at its disposal, 11 commuters sustained serious injuries, 545 had minor injuries and 61 were moderately injured.
She said the estimated damage was close to R21million for infrastructure and rolling stock.
With the accident occurring the day before schools re-opened, Vadi advised commuters to arrange alternative transport.
Meanwhile, Steve Harris, general secretary of the United National Transport Union, said Prasa and Transport Minister Blade Nzimande were to blame for the tragic accident.
He said the crash could have been prevented if Prasa had ensured that its management implemented the terms of the court order granted against them in October last year.
“In terms of the court order, Prasa had to ensure that a supervisor oversees each and every manual authorisation of a train control officer to eliminate human errors form occurring, as was the case with all the train collisions in Gauteng over the last three years.
“Had there been two pairs of eyes overseeing the manual authorisation instead of one, this collision would in all likelihood never have happened,” Harris said.
Emergency workers carry an injured commuter who got injured when two trains collided in Pretoria.
He said “the implementation of this order was the reason why the Railway Safety Regulator re-issued Prasa with a safety permit to continue operating on the railway lines”.
Harris said trains from Mabopane to Daspoort Station have been working on manual authorisation for more than a year as none of the signals on the route were working.
He said the union had “repeatedly condemned the long usage of manual authorisations as it increases the risk for fatal accidents”.
“We have been asking for a meeting with Minister Nzimande for over 11 months now without success. He is kept in the dark about the true state of affairs on ground level while our members and commuters are dying,” Harris said.