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The RSR

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The Office of the Chief Operations Officer (OCOO) comprises the following four core operational departments: Technical Services, Regional Operations including Human Factors Management, Standards and Regulations, and Technical Skills Development. The portfolio includes Legal Services as a critical pillar to executing the OCOO mandate

In line with the RSR’s strategic vision of “Zero Occurrences”, the mandate of the OCOO is to provide operations leadership in support of the organisation’s business objectives through the articulation, initiation and implementation of professional operations and ensuring operational compliance and control.


Technical Services

The Technical Services unit is the powerhouse of technical knowledge within the RSR. The unit has four functions namely, Perway and Civil Works; Electrical Signalling and Telecommunications; Rolling Stock, and Maintainer Regulation and are responsible for:

  • Advising on and auditing new works and technology developments within the railway industry
  • Participating in the development of Regulations, Standards, safety protocols, guides and railway related manuals
  • Supporting the harmonisation of relevant standards in the SADC region by providing relevant expertise
  • Conducting technical studies to assist with technical expertise during technical awareness training
  • Providing assistance to the Occurrence Investigations department during Boards of Inquiry as well as safety compliance for inspections and audits
  • Monitoring the movement of dangerous goods by rail
  • Implementing a regulatory regime for the suppliers of safety critical services and components
  • Providing technical support on demand within the RSR as well as to operators
  • Providing assurance that safety critical components procured by operators do not compromise safety
  • Developing accreditation, certification criteria for suppliers
  • Developing and maintain a database of certified suppliers

Safety Compliance enforced through Regional Operations

The role of Safety Compliance is to monitor and enforce safety compliance in the rail sector by issuing safety permits and proactively conducting inspections and audits. The unit comprises five regional offices, which monitor and enforce safety compliance by issuing permits and proactively conducting inspections and audits. Safety Compliance is responsible for:

  • Assessing the adequacy of Safety Management Systems Reports of railway operators against predetermined criteria to make informed decisions on the issuance of new Safety Permits
  • Assessing the adequacy of Safety Improvement Plans submitted by operators outlining their interventions to improve safety
  • Monitoring safety compliance through targeted safety audits of operators’ safety management systems and risk based inspections of railway operations
  • Enforcing regulatory instruments where non-compliances are detected
  • Following through on and the timely closure of all open directives
  • Enforcing and monitoring compliance with the Human Factors Management Strategy, including focused Human Factor Audit Reviews. The Human Factor Unit: oversees the licensing and reviews competency assessments of Safety Critical workers
    • provides technical information/inputs for technology reviews;
    • provides consultancy/advisor services in Human Factors domains; and
    • provides applied human factors training for the advancement of knowledge.
  • Capacitating the industry to deliver safe railway operations through effective and timely communication and a consistent approach on interventions
  • Conducting annual Permit Fee determinations and effecting the management and administration thereof

Standards and Regulations

The Standards and Regulations unit was established to provide specialist and technical expertise through:

  • The development of standards, protocols, guides and railway related manuals
  • Facilitating the implementation of applicable regulations
  • The provision of technical awareness workshops
  • Supporting the engagement of the RSR with relevant organs of state through conclusion and execution of memoranda of understanding (MoU)

Technical Skills Development

The Technical Skills Development unit provides appropriate internal and external training courses, modules, railway technology and standards support; capacity development; and technical skills enhancement through:

  • Technical Training (Internal): Ensure the provision of identified technical skills training (Internal)
  • Technical Training (External): Ensure the provision of appropriate technical skills training (External)
  • Mentoring: Ensure authoritative experience-based mentoring

Legal Services

The Legal Services unit provides legal advice and guidance to the RSR. The unit’s mandate can be summarised as follows:

  • Creating a regulatory environment that is in accordance with the applicable and relevant legislation
  • Managing a comprehensive, relevant, innovative and pro-active in-house legal service
  • Guarding the reputation of the RSR by ensuring that the organisation is not exposed to legal risks
  • Taking responsibility for providing managers and front-line staff with sufficient legal knowledge so that they are able to act in the interest of the organisation at all times
  • Providing support and assistance with litigation matters

The department is the entity’s nerve-centre and supports both the operational business units and the Strategic and Business Development department with essential business intelligence services. Given that the RSR is a data-driven and evidence-based organisation, the Operational Intelligence and Planning department is responsible for the collection, validation, analysis and dissemination of rail-safety data from across the rail industry. It provides commentary and interpretation of the trends across rail themes. The following provide an overview of the department’s key functions:

  • Data collection, collation and management
  • Analyse relevant safety data trend analysis
  • Monitor and disseminate safety performance of the rail landscape
  • Compilation of submission of the Annual State of Safety Report
  • Conduct regulatory research
  • Applied scientific/engineering research and material testing and finite element assessments
  • Safety assurance through the continuous improvement of the SMS
  • Business plan and project plan reviews
  • Provide project management support and coordination
  • Manage change in the organisation

The Occurrence Investigations department investigates railway occurrences. The objectives of conducting these investigations are to determine the facts of the occurrences, determine the immediate and root causes and make recommendations to prevent or reduce the risk of recurrence. The department comprises three units, namely, Railway Security, Investigations, and Board of Inquiry. Their key functions are as follows:

  • Investigations conducts investigations on occurrences
  • Board of Inquiry (BOI) is responsible for coordinating and facilitating all BOIs
  • Railway Security collaborates with relevant organs of State such as South African Police Service (SAPS) and railway police and with railway operators to ensure the security of staff, contractors, and rail users.

The department, comprising Finance, Supply Chain Management and Enterprise-Wide Risk Management (ERM) units, provides financial management leadership and endorses all financial information and risks submitted to EXCO, the Accounting Officer and the Accounting Authority. It maintains a healthy Supply Chain Management System that is effective, efficient, transparent, competitive and fair. The department also ensures that the RSR complies with external regulatory requirements (that is, King IV, Public Finance Management Act, Treasury Regulations, GRAP and any other relevant prescripts). It is responsible for ensuring that financial policies and guidelines are complied with and that the quality and timelines of financial information and reporting are assured. In addition, it develops and maintains an effective and efficient budget planning and monitoring system, which not only ensures compliance with government budget cycle, but also ensures qualitative improvement in how the RSR conducts its business by:

  • Ensuring that the organisation optimally utilises its financial resources by partnering with Business Units and continuously improving its financial management processes
  • Establishing a climate that fosters good financial management practices
  • Promoting a “SERVICE and RISK AWARE CULTURE” across the organisation resulting in finance being the point of contact around business and finance matters
  • Enhancing the RSR’s investment decision-making competencies and capabilities
  • Anticipating and manage cash shortages and surplus
  • Facilitating, integrating and coordinating the RSR’s risk management activities
  • Integrating risk in strategic and financial planning and decision making

The entity’s corporate functions find expression in the Corporate Affairs department. It is made up of the following departments: Information and Communication Technology (ICT); Human Resources, Media and Communications and Facilities and Fleet Management.


Information and Communication Technology (ICT)

The Information and Communication Technology (ICT) department ensures that the RSR is electronically sound and on par with the latest technological developments. ICT’s main responsibilities include:

  • Managing the organisation’s hardware, software and physical communication
  • Providing guidance for technology issues for employees
  • Maintaining information security, availability and accessibility
  • Providing guidance and perspective on information technology initiatives

Human Resources

The Human Resources department provides advice and support to the executive and line management on human resources issues. The department incorporates a full suite of human resources functions. Within this framework, the department has developed and implemented effective human resources management processes to develop leadership and create a learning organisation that values the importance of service delivery and empowering people for operational excellence. The following provide an overview of this Unit’s core functions:

  • Recruitment and Selection: To ensure the provision of suitably qualified and experienced employees in line with the business demands
  • Remunerations and Benefits: To ensure equitable remuneration and benefits in line with the market
  • Learning and Development: To provide development for employees to acquire competencies relevant for their roles, to enhance performance and delivery of business objectives
  • Performance and Organisational Development: To provide effective performance management system as well as strategic operational and technical leadership with regards to business process design or redesign, change management to support the organization

Facilities and Fleet Management

The Human Resources department provides advice and support to the executive and line management on human resources issues. The department incorporates a full suite of human resources functions. Within this framework, the department has developed and implemented effective human resources management processes to develop leadership and create a learning organisation that values the importance of service delivery and empowering people for operational excellence. The following provide an overview of this Unit’s core functions:

  • Recruitment and Selection: To ensure the provision of suitably qualified and experienced employees in line with the business demands
  • Remunerations and Benefits: To ensure equitable remuneration and benefits in line with the market
  • Learning and Development: To provide development for employees to acquire competencies relevant for their roles, to enhance performance and delivery of business objectives
  • Performance and Organisational Development: To provide effective performance management system as well as strategic operational and technical leadership with regards to business process design or redesign, change management to support the organization

Media and Communications

The Media and Communications department provides a comprehensive communications service to the RSR. It is responsible for developing and delivering clear and compelling communications messages and materials to key audiences, internally and externally. It drives the strategic management of the RSR’s reputation and builds a profile between the RSR, the media and the public.

The Strategy and Business Development department’s mandate is to build and secure the RSR’s social, reputational and financial capital (i.e. long-term value) while ensuring a stable and productive internal environment that is geared towards performance excellence by identifying and implementing appropriate and relevant enablers.

Strategy and Performance

This unit provides advice and support to executive and line management on strategic and operational planning issues. In doing so, it ensures compliance to PFMA prescripts by:

  • Facilitating the development and production of the RSR’s MTSF and APP
  • Overseeing and monitoring the implementation of the RSR’s MTSF and APP
  • Overseeing and managing organisational performance using the MQS and Balance Score Card approaches
  • Overseeing the development of the RSR’s Annual Report

Staff and EXCO meetings, therefore, constitute an important oversight function where the performance of the organisation and its strategic objectives are reported on, monitored and assessed to ensure that risks are identified and mitigated and that the requisite support can be provided for the organisation to achieve its desired objectives.

Business Development

This unit’s activities span across the following domains: sales, marketing, product and vendor management, networking, negotiations, partnerships and cost-saving efforts.

  • Sales: The Sales team is responsible for developing and implementing cutting-edge railway safety sales strategies that are tailored for specific markets and their respective clientele/customer base to achieve targeted revenue.
  • Marketing: Marketing involves the promotion and advertising aimed towards the successful sale of the RSR’s products/ service offerings to the end-customers by using relevant technology, media, research and expertise to ensure correct market segmentation and messaging. This function plays a complementary role in achieving sales targets.
  • Strategic Initiatives/Partnerships: This function identifies joint-venture opportunities with firms intending to or already operating in targeted new market segments.
  • Business Planning: This involves project, product and vendor management activities. This function is responsible for developing a thorough understanding of market needs, scoping the RSR’s service offerings and customising these to cater for expressed and unexpressed needs thereby ensuring the organisation’s competitiveness in the field. The project management function then takes over by designing the market capture and penetration strategy.
  • Negotiations, networking and lobbying: To penetrate and capture new markets, networking, negotiations and/ or lobbying with third parties such as suppliers, transport agencies, government authorities, and regulators is needed.
  • Cost Savings: Business development is not only about increasing our revenue base through market reach. Strategic decisions to improve the organisation’s bottom line include cost-cutting measures such as outsourcing non-core work, leveraging off joint-venture partnerships for market research/intelligence and penetration, etc.