S.African train crash driver fired for speeding

25th May 2011, Comments 0 comments

South African rail authorities said Wednesday they have fired the driver of a commuter train for speeding after he smashed into a stationery train last week, injuring hundreds of people.

Investigators found the driver was travelling at 85 kilometres (53 miles) per hour in a 30-kilometres-per-hour zone when the the rush-hour crash occurred last Thursday in Johannesburg's Soweto township.

"At the point of impact he had already decelerated as much as he could, to around 33 kilometres, but the point is when you're driving a train, you're then working on velocity," Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) spokeswoman Nana Zenani told AFP.

"He shouldn't have been doing 85 in a 30 zone to begin with."

The accident injured more than 800 people but left no fatalities. PRASA said no criminal charges would be filed against him.

PRASA announced a slate of new safety measures Wednesday aimed at slowing drivers down, improving their training and weeding out those who violate safety rules.

"I think the bulk of our drivers are doing well. What we are doing is rooting out the elements within a stable driver record, some rogue elements who are not willing to adhere by the rules," Zenani said.

PRASA also said in a statement it has established a 20-million-rand ($2.8 million, two million euros) fund to compensate victims of the Soweto accident and another crash last month in Pretoria that killed a train driver and left some 200 injured.

South African commuter trains ferry more than two million people, mostly low-income earners, daily on the country's railroads.

© 2011 AFP

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