The Rail Safety Regulator (RSR) has established a board of inquiry to investigate the horrific Shosholoza Meyl train crash that killed 19 people in the Free State last week.
The inquiry will particularly look into why five carriages of the long-distance train burst into flames on impact‚ which the regulator said was the main cause of death.
Nomusa Qunta‚ RSR chairperson‚ said the cause of the fire was a major concern. She said the board would look into how such occurrences could be prevented.
“We have contacted the minister (of transport) and we are in agreement that the board of inquiry needs to be established‚ to identify the root causes‚ the source of the fire and also what needs to be done to prevent future occurrences‚” Qunta said in Pretoria on Wednesday.
She said during the inspection of the crash site‚ it was confirmed that the fuel tanks of the locomotive and the power van did not rupture and no excessive diesel spillage was noticeable.
Four children were among the dead after a fire broke out soon after the train‚ with 18 coaches‚ slammed into an articulated tipper truck‚ burst into flames‚ and engulfed carriages while passengers were still trapped inside.
The train‚ made up of sleeper coaches‚ a double dining car and a power car‚ was en route from Port Elizabeth to Johannesburg‚ and had 599 passengers and 23 staff on board at the time of the collision.
The truck‚ which was carrying a load of soya beans‚ was dragged about 139 metres.
Overhead power lines snapped and fell on top of the coaches on impact‚ with arcing noticeable on the roof of the burnt coaches.
Preliminary findings reveal that the level crossing is located on a gravel road that is protected by advanced warning signs and a stop sign.
Furthermore‚ the railway line is equipped with whistle boards on both sides of the level crossing.
The findings concluded that the level of protection was in line with standard requirements and also indicated that the driver of the truck tested negative for alcohol.
by Sipho Mabena -TimesLIVE