The rail safety regulator has slapped the embattled Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) with an order barring it from using Gouda station in Western Cape due to passenger safety concerns.

The Railway Safety Regulator (RSR) on Tuesday said the Prohibition Directive to suspend station operations at Gouda station was issued on August 24 following an investigation prompted by complaints from commuters.

According to the directive sent to Prasa by Bonakele Godongwana‚ railway safety inspector‚ the Prohibition Directive came after Prasa failed to comply with an Improvement Directive issued on April 26‚ 2013.

Godongwana states that Prasa failed to submit a comprehensive plan of action in to RSR’s regional manager in Cape Town by September 30‚ 2013.

“The Prohibition Directive‚ instructing Prasa to cease railway operations at Gouda Station‚ is issued in terms of Section 36 of the National Safety Regulator Act‚ 2002 (Act 16‚ 2002) as amended. The Directive is effective immediately and will only be revoked when Prasa has satisfactorily demonstrated to the RSR that the immediate threats no longer exist‚” Godongwana said.

Godongwana states that failure by Prasa to comply with this directive would result in a penalty being imposed in terms of the RSR Act.

The investigation by the safety regulator‚ which included an inspection through a train ride from Gouda station to Bellvile‚ found that:

– The height of the passenger platform in use on the eastern side of Gouda Station does not conform to the prescribed passenger platform specifications as per the Track Maintenance Manual;

– There are no shelters and ablution facilities to cater for commuters on the passenger/commuter platform;

– The platform surface is in a very poor condition and has big hole which poses a hazard to commuters;

– The fence around the station is in a poor condition and that makes the station vulnerable to people accessing the station without authority or/and valid tickets (trespassers); and

– The platform was very dark due to insufficient lighting at the station.