Media releases

PRASA and Gibela unveil the finalised design of their new commuter train

The project achieves its first milestone and now advances at full speed towards the manufacture of the vehicles

The final design of the new X'Trapolis MEGA commuter train to be delivered by Gibela to PRASA was unveiled today during Africa Rail, Africa's leading transport & infrastructure show.

The project achieves its first milestone and now advances at full speed towards the manufacture of the vehicles

Johannesburg, 2 July 2014:

The final design of the new X'Trapolis MEGA commuter train to be delivered by Gibela to PRASA was unveiled today during Africa Rail, Africa's leading transport & infrastructure show.

Since the contract for the supply of 600 trains came into force on 26 April 2014, the two companies have been engaged in the so-called "Design Review" − a process by which the detailed engineering of the train is finalized and agreed upon. All the proposed features of the train have been examined; the detailed plans to build the vehicles have been approved and it will now be possible to commence with the manufacturing phase.

"The project is running at full speed and we have successfully completed the first important milestone," said PRASA Group CEO Mr Lucky Montana. "We are very satisfied with the progress made and the results achieved: this train will become a national asset, which will satisfy the needs of our passengers and make them proud to use it."

"The Design Review has seen the PRASA and Gibela project teams working together for the first time in the project execution phase with a very positive spirit of collaboration. Thanks to Alstom's advanced technology the review was done quickly and efficiently," explained Gibela CEO Marc Granger.

Among the features of the train which were finalized were its interior and exterior outlines.

Aesthetic design is an integral part of the development of an Alstom train and the company has a specialized Design & Styling Department with some 20 people working on the whole of its product line. In this instance, they worked in unison with PRASA's designers to achieve the final look of the train.

Alstom is equipped with a 3D "virtual reality" room which allows the showcasing and review of all the features and configurations of the train in real scale 3D imagery. Using a "FlyStick" and wearing 3D glasses whose motion is followed by tracking cameras, users can examine the train details, "walk" inside a digital mock-up of the train itself, or manipulate CAD [Computer-aided design] models in real-time. Engineers can view specific parts in their actual size and can better judge how components will fit into the final product in the context of the design calculations.

"At Alstom we believe that the concept of a new train should reflect the character and culture of the city or country where it will run, as well as the identity of the operator" explained Alstom Design & Styling Director, Mr Xavier Allard. "In the case of PRASA, the design of the train is inspired by South Africa's rapid advancement towards increased modernity and technological progress."

Alongside this milestone, the first group of Gibela's newly hired South African engineers is being trained, over an 18-month period, in train technology in various Alstom facilities in Europe. In Lapa, Brazil, preparatory work has begun in the Alstom plant where the first 20 trains will be manufactured and where the assembly of the first vehicle will start in the coming weeks.

About PRASA

PRASA was formally established in December 2008, when the President signed the Legal Succession Act into law. This completed the consolidation of the various entities (Metrorail, Autopax, Shosholoza Meyl and Intersite) into PRASA from what were the South African Rail Commuter Corporation and Transnet. PRASA has 17 000 employees, 76% of which are employed by Metrorail.

PRASA press contact:

Moffet Mofokeng
Tel: +27 71 860 8500
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 
Website: www.prasa.com

About Gibela

Gibela is a South African rail company borne out of a consortium that was awarded PRASA's 10-year rolling stock programme to design, manufacture and deliver 600 passenger trains. The company will establish a state-of-the art manufacturing facility in Ekurhuleni, Gauteng; localise the manufacture of components for the new fleet and create jobs on a sizeable scale. In tandem with managing local content of more than 65%; Gibela will facilitate the development of local rail-sector relevant skills and the transfer of technical know-how. As Gibela's majority shareholder and major supplier, Alstom will play a significant role in the transfer of historical technological expertise in suburban rail transport which includes the robust design-proven X'Trapolis family and it's X'Trapolis Mega (MEtric GAuge) − a safe, reliable and comfortable train, specifically designed for South Africa.

Gibela press contact:

Pamella Radebe
Tel: +27 11 518 8232
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Background information

  •  The exterior design takes its inspiration from the multi-dimensional nature of South African society and the reflection of this as seen in the many facets of its diamonds and in the angular structure of its national flower, the Protea. PRASA's vibrant blue has been used to make the large entrance doors easily identifiable, allowing for trouble free access, also for disabled, elderly and commuters with prams.
  • The interior spaciousness allows for fluidity of movement of passengers. The large windows leave natural light flowing into, creating a bright welcoming space. This space is user friendly, reminiscent of the traditional African "Boma", a gathering place where communities take time to engage and communicate with one another.
  • Details of the design were studied to offer an enhanced transport experience to the South African commuters. Such details include suspended benches with integrate overhead luggage racks (which take their design inspiration from the pergola/verandah as a quiet and open place of shelter) and contrasted gripping handles for passengers safety.
  • The customized design of the X'Trapolis Mega was intended to offer maximum transportation value to PRASA. As part of the Alstom X'Trapolis standard platform, this train will benefit from the proven ability of these suburban vehicles to handle a large number of passengers. In the metro configuration, longitudinal seats allow for a corridor of 1300 mm wide, so as to increase the standing area for commuters and hence the total capacity, while retaining safety and comfort.