Media coverage

Work on new Dunnottar rail hub to begin early next year

Publication: Engineering news

The first 20 trains in the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa’s (Prasa’s) ten-year, R51-billion deal to procure 600 new trains should be shipped from Brazil by the end of 2015, says Gibela CEO Marc Granger.

He says Prasa should start using these first new trains, which will replace its old Metrorail rolling stock in 2016.

The majority shareholder in Gibela is Alstom Southern Africa (61%), with 9% of the shares held by New Africa Rail and 30% by Ubumbano Rail.

The remaining 580 trains of the contract will be manufactured at a new industrial park in Dunnottar, on the East Rand, says Granger, with construction on this site to start in February 2015.

At full production, this facility should produce 62 trains a year.

Production of the first South African trains is scheduled to start in 2017. They should have 65% to 70% local content.

The R51-billion price tag is subject to inflation and exchange rate fluctuations, says Granger.

Payment during the first five years of the deal will be in rands, later moving to multicurrency payments.

Gibela has already received its first payment from the Treasury, Granger adds.

He also notes that Gibela has secured a maintenance, spares supply and technical support contract from Prasa for a period of 19 years in a deal worth roughly R10-billion.

This figure will be influenced by the trains’ operating schedule.

In executing its contracts, Gibela will create 1 500 direct jobs, says Granger, and another 8 000 direct jobs in the supply chain.

Just under R800-million has been earmarked for skills development, R746-million for the development of rail sector enterprises and R273-million for community programmes.

Ten South African engineers are already participating in an 18-month training programme.

The train Gibela will supply to Prasa is the X’Trapolis MEtric GAuge (Mega) unit.

Each train will have six cars and will be around 120 m to 130 m long. One train will be able to carry 1 200 passengers, with WiFi and CCTV infrastructure on board.

Each Mega unit will have a stainless steel structure, and 90% of its components will be recyclable. The maximum speed will be 120 km/h.

“We are busy identifying existing suppliers in the country. We also have to organise the establishment of some new businesses,” says Granger.

These suppliers will also be housed at the Dunnottar site.

The 70 ha industrial park will include a 36 ha train assembly site, a 10 ha bogie, traction and motor site, and a 25 ha supplier park.

The site might revert to Prasa at the end of the ten-year train assembly contract.

Granger says the global General Electric (GE) deal currently being thrashed out, whereby GE will acquire Alstom’s energy-related businesses, will not influence the Gibela-Prasa transaction.

The deal affects the power-related businesses only, with all transport activities remaining with the French Alstom group.

“It does not [place] any constraints on Alstom Transport.”