Rousing send-off for Gibela’s first South-African-built commuter train
Dunnottar, Ekurhuleni, 7 December 2018. Hundreds of Gibela employees gathered today to give a rousing send-off to the first South African-built X’trapolis Mega commuter train.
To the strains of vuvuzelas and loud cheers, the six-car train left Gibela’s new train-manufacturing complex at Dunnottar in Ekurhuleni, en route for the Wolmerton depot of the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA), north of Pretoria.
Gibela’s CEO, Thierry Darthout says the train has taken 14 months to complete, with production beginning in September 2017.
“This train has been built whilst finishing construction of one of the largest manufacturing plants in the world; furnishing the car body shell workshop with 19 state-of-the-art process innovations and commissioning high-tech equipment. Coordinating multiple processes and reaching these major milestones at the same time is an achievement in and of itself.”
“But today, seeing off this modern train, the first in a generation, I am reminded that every hour devoted by Gibela’s dynamic and aspirational team has been worth it. This train is for them – and for their fellow South Africans”.
“We are hugely indebted to our majority shareholder, Alstom, for the invaluable support they have given us in the transfer of technology programme that enabled today’s feat and also for their continued support of our operational endeavours,” says Gibela’s CEO, Thierry Darthout.
About 800 full-time Gibela employees are currently involved in various phases of the manufacturing process and around 100 local suppliers in the provision of various components and services. These numbers are set to rise as train production ramps up in the months ahead.
Currently, there are two trains undergoing testing and commissioning, with 16 cars in the fitting workshop and 23 in the car body shell workshop.
At full production, the Gibela plant will turn out 62 trains a year; and a total of 580 trains over the next 10 years. This amounts to the fastest train production rate in in the world.
Group Executive: Strategic Asset Development at PRASA, Piet Sebola, says Gibela’s state-of the art commuter trains are at the heart of delivering to South Africa’s public “a safe, reliable and comfortable commuting experience that cannot be postponed”.
“It has been encouraging, in the preparation for the manufacture of this first South African-built X’Trapolis Mega train, to see hundreds of young South Africans – many of them women – undergo training as artisans and technicians, and to then play a central role in the manufacturing process itself,” he says.
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BACKGROUND COMPANY INFORMATION
- Gibela currently employs 800 people the majority of whom are artisans, technicians and engineers. 229 of these employees have received intensive offshore training at Alstom’s centres of manufacturing excellence in Europe, South America, Asia and Australia to learn the latest in train manufacturing and maintenance technology. At full ramp up, the plant will employ 1 500 employees.
- As a critical catalyst in the rejuvenation of the local railway manufacturing industry, Gibela is cognisant that much of its economic impact will occur through the supply chain. The company currently relies on 118 suppliers to supply critical components for its trains. For each trainset built, Gibela will spend 80% of the train’s procurement value suppliers (currently 71).
- With a 65% local content contractual commitment, Gibela is heavily invested in sourcing components from local companies. However, over the past few decades there was no investment in the railway industry resulting in the loss of capacity and expertise. This is where the Gibela supplier development programme comes in to plug these gaps and bolster the skills of budding South African suppliers. So far, thousands of hours of offshore industrial expertise has been spent on developing local suppliers.
- The company’s impact extends beyond the boundaries of its factory, most immediately to its nearby communities. Gibela’s community initiatives focus on education – from early childhood development to providing maths and science classes to over 500 pupils from local schools. To build skills across South Africa, Gibela has awarded 650 bursaries to the value of R48 million and hosted 300 students at its Railway Introduction Course to give them exposure to the rail industry.
Gibela was formed as a joint venture to replace South Africa's outdated rolling stock and will deliver 600 state-of-the art passenger trains into the South African rail network over the next 10 years. Fully empowered, Gibela is conscious of its role as a catalyst for economic development and the creation of new skills through its majority shareholder, Alstom. In a contract signed in 2013, the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) assigned Gibela the task of replacing its rolling stock with new trains.
Gibela is headquartered in Johannesburg, while its manufacturing and training facility is located in Dunnottar, Ekurhuleni, Gauteng. Through the rolling stock project, Gibela will generate 1 500 direct jobs and thousands of indirect jobs through the supply chain over a 10-year period. Thousands of people – engineers, artisans, technicians, train drivers and technologists – will benefit from training and upskilling.
GIBELA 2018. All rights reserved. Information contained in this document is indicative only. No representation or warranty is given or should be relied on that it is complete or correct or will apply to any particular project. This will depend on the technical and commercial circumstances. It is provided without liability and is subject to change without notice. Reproduction, use or disclosure to third parties, without express written authority, is strictly prohibited.