Montana: “Trains are safe and the best in the world”

BY CHARL BOSCH - JULY 7, 2015

The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa’s (PRASA) has slammed a weekend newspaper report suggesting that its fleet of brand new Spanish made diesel locomotives exceeded imposed height restrictions.

Speaking at a media briefing yesterday, PRASA Group CEO Lucky Montana described the alleged findings by Rapport as lies, saying that all of 13 of the Afro 4000 locomotives, delivered in January at a total cost of R600-million, met the various safety standards as required by the Rail Safety Regulator (RSR).

His comments comes after the paper revealed that the roofs of the locomotives, which forms part of a R3.5-billion order for 70 similar units from manufacturer Vossloh España, surpassed the 3 965 mm height limit for diesel units by measuring 4 264 mm.

Citing several Transnet sources, the paper also claimed that PRASA had been aware of the height issues, but chose to ignore it despite the possibility of the trains, intended for long-distance routes, causing damage to overhead wires on electrified sections.

“We meet the safety standards. We have bought one of the best locomotives in the world and we are not even apologetic about that,” Montana said.

“In our testing we have gone through many bridges and even tunnels, we have taken the trains from Johannesburg to Mahikeng, taken it to Bloemfontein and the Eastern Cape. We have run the locomotives between Durban and Cape Town. From our side, there is no story. The hype is focused on other things”.

He also stated that the journalist responsible for the article had clearly penned it with the intention to discredit PRASA’s workings, and to prove that its “employees were incompetent because of their skin colour”.

“People are asking why we are not running these locomotives if there is no problem. That shows lack of understanding. We must first run them for 3 000 kilometres before they can be rolled out”.

In a similar reaction, PRASA Head of Rail Safety, Mosenngwa Mofi, said it was unlikely that the trains would come into contact with the wires as reported.

“The Afro 4000 locomotives’ height is 4 140 m as opposed to the 4 262 reported. The safety instruction allows for a tolerance of +150 mm between the roof of the locomotive and the electrical contact wire,” he said, adding that no reports of a locomotives hitting a tunnel or pulling down gantries had been reported so far.

Rapport editor Waldimar Pelser has however stated that the paper stands by its original findings although it would have no problems in rectifying certain errors if proved wrong.

“Rapport does not publish investigative reports merely on a whim and stands by its story. The report and PRASA’s response to it hinge on the locomotives’ maximum acceptable height, which Rapport reported experts as fixing at 3 965 mm, measured from the track to the very top of the locomotive,” Pelser told News24.

“On Prasa’s own admission today, the locomotives are 4 100 mm tall, while Rapport, which relied for measurements on numerous well-placed engineering sources, fixed the height at 4 264 mm”.

Referring to Montana’s claims that the article was aimed as discrediting PRASA, Pelser said, “Rapport expressed no opinion about the competence of PRASA officials, and in fact our reporter deals regularly with highly competent people on the PRASA team”.

 

IMAGE sourced from www.railpictures.net

 

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