Rail renaissance on route I n an age where interoperability plays a critical role in driving competitiveness in the rail sector, the White Paper on the National Rail Policy is about to invigorate South Africa’s rail landscape, giving it an edge to compete with the world’s most advanced rail networks. It is without a doubt that the Railway Safety Regulator (RSR) will play a key role in providing the Department of Transport (DoT) and the Economic Regulator with the necessary support in the digital revolution journey that the sector is embarking on. “The Rail Policy is something we have been waiting for, for a long time. For the RSR specifically, it advocates for us to oversee the registration and licensing of safety critical grades in line with applicable regulatory frameworks. Furthermore, the data collected from our National Information Management System (NIMS) will support Economic Regulator and enable them to make decisions with a clear understanding of the railway sector, “RSR CEO, Tshepo Kgare asserted. The White Paper on the National Rail Policy is not only pivotal in the development of South Africa’s economy, but it will also create an efficient transport system that will parallel no other on the continent. The invitation for the private sector to invest in rail will liberate the network while setting the rail sector on a path to more inclusive economic growth. As the Transport Minister, Fikile Mbalula, elucidated, the White Paper will be a major step towards rehabilitating South Africa’s ailing rail network and represents a new era and a decisive break with the past, which saw
The policy states that the RSR shall be responsible for the following: Developing a railway risk matrix that balances the severity of harm against the probability of its occurrence Aligning the risk levels with best global railway practice Ensuring its permit cost methodology reflects a measurable direct and indirect cost of risk the railways being used as an instrument to segregate society. To add to the Minister’s call for action in restoring the rail infrastructure, Kgare, emphasised, “Revitalisation of the rail networks is a priority. There is total devastation of the networks, there is nothing left to steal anymore. It is imperative that we find ways of halting the decline and restore the integrity of rail”. One of the key components of reforming the network will be the introduction of long distance, highspeed trains between Durban and Johannesburg – “a profitable route that will allow rail to compete with commercial airlines” said Ngwako Makaepea, Acting Director-General of the DoT. Together with the DoT, ensuring that infrastructure and rolling stock technologies are incorporated in revitalisation interventions for Cape gauge and standard gauge rail, provide a quantifiable and acceptable residual safety risk. Overseeing the registration and licensing of safety critical grades in line with applicable regulatory frameworks.
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