While the number of railway related fatalities remaining fairly consistent at 450 since 2011, the cost of incidents and related measures has increased by R220 million from the last financial period, according to the Rail Safety Regulator’s Anual State of Railway Safety report for 2014/2015. Dr Willem Sprong, Technical Executive: Transportation at GIBB believes that railway safety is a constant balance between skills, culture and operations.

Dr Sprong will represent GIBB, one of South Africa’s leading black-owned engineering consulting firm’s at the 26th International Railway Safety Council (IRSC) Organising Committee consisting of the French Public Railway Group (SNCF) and the French Railway Safety, to be held from 2 – 7 October 2016 in Paris, France.

Dr Sprong will present a paper on the need for South Africa to have a national railway safety strategy.

“The objective of the strategy that I will present is that railway is perceived as the safest mode of transport, nationally. But the reality is what needs to happen to turn this perception into reality?,” said Dr Sprong.

There should be a strategy that focus on key areas with a framework that unpacks regulation, industry outreach, oversight and rail safety management.

Amongst its six other sectors, GIBB has a Traffic and Transportation sector which contributes to South Africa and Africa’s airports, railways, roads, highway services. The vision is that railway be perceived as the safest mode of transport in South Africa.

“At GIBB, we believe in implementing risk-based and creative approaches through the use of new technologies in order to ensure our country’s transportation systems constantly improve for the better, hence we partner with other entities, to develop a national rail safety strategy which will result in establishing rail as the safest passenger and freight orientated mode of transport in South Africa,” added Dr Sprong.

The overarching theme of the IRSC Council Paris 2016 is “Railway safety: meeting the challenges of tomorrow’s society”. The International Railway Safety Council (IRSC) 2016 is the major platform for the exchange of knowledge and experience in the field of railway safety.

“The growing urbanisation of our societies and the environmental challenges increase the request of safe and sustainable transport, and the IRSC Council Paris 2016 presentations and debates will give the opportunity to the participating experts to share solutions, questioning and perspectives,” said Dr Sprong.

GIBB’s Transportation Sector established itself as a world-class provider of technologically excellent, cost-effective and pertinent railway engineering solutions at every level, from planning to design and contract supervision of all rail-related projects. GIBB, provides comprehensive transportation solutions in the fields of rail, urban and rural roads, airports and aviation, ports, transportation policy and planning.

“Our Transportation team is supported by Public Private Partnerships (PPP’s), freight and logistics, economic and financial planning expertise available within GIBB,” concluded Dr Sprong.