Revolutionary level-crossing system introduced

BY CHARL BOSCH - NOVEMBER 12, 2014

A unique automated level-crossing mechanism, designed to prevent motorist from driving around the lowered booms in the face of an oncoming train, was officially unveiled by Transnet Chairman, Mafika Mkwanazi, at a demonstration event in Boshoek, outside Rustenberg in North West, last Friday.

Using a combination of traditional booms and hydraulically operated road blockers, the mechanism would first trigger an orange and then a red light, leading to the lowering of the booms once a train has been detected. With the booms downs, the ground-mounted blockers would rise on either side, making it impossible for cars to jump the tracks.

Speaking at the launch, Mkwanazi said that the idea for the blockers stems from incidents over the past three years, which has seen 52 people losing their lives and a further 140 being injured at 228 level-crossings throughout the country.

“This innovation by Transnet, once we have rolled it out in full, will save hundreds of lives by eliminating fatalities due to drivers not adhering to level crossing signs,” said Mkwanazi.

“Through this invention, we are taking discretion away from the driver as the mechanism stops the vehicle from crossing the railway line ahead of an oncoming train.”

A similar system had already been installed and successfully tested in Leeuwpan near Delmas in Mpumalanga, with plans currently underway to introduce the mechanism to Muldersvlei near Stellenbosch and Chavonnes near Worcester in the Western Cape, with the ultimate goal being its installation at the 4 000 level-crossings across the country.

“South Africa cannot afford to lose more innocent lives due to lack of basic protective mechanisms at rail level crossings and recklessness by individual drivers who do not observe regulations,” Public Enterprises Deputy Director-General for Transport, Kgomotso Modise, said at the system’s Boshoek launch.

“It is therefore a high priority for us in Government and Transnet to prevent further fatalities that may result in loss of lives,” she said.

 

CAPTION: Traditional level crossing. IMAGE sourced from www.arrivealive.co.za