First train from new R1 billion SA factory expected in 18 months
- Published: Friday, 04 March 2016 11:01
Johannesburg, South Africa: Friday, 4 March, 2016. The production of the first South African-manufactured commuter train − made up of six state-of-the-art cars – destined for the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa’s (PRASA) Metrorail network is scheduled to start in about 18 months’ time at a new R1 billion factory at Dunnottar in Ekurhuleni, Gauteng.
This is according to Marc Granger, CEO of Gibela Rail Consortium (Pty) Limited (Gibela), the Alstom-controlled company established in 2012 with black economic empowerment partners to supply and maintain 600 new commuter trains under contract to PRASA.
Granger was speaking today at a PRASA-hosted event in Ekurhuleni to mark breaking of first ground by the Minister of Transport, Dipuo Peters, for the new train manufacturing facility.
By the end of 2020, Granger said, the factory is expected to be producing at maximum capacity of two rail cars a day, with a 1 500-strong, onsite workforce directly employed by Gibela.
“Manufacturing at this level will be a huge industrial challenge, exceeding the kind of performances currently achieved by any of the world’s top train-building plants,” Granger said.
Some 10 000 parts, produced by some 250 South African suppliers to meet PRASA’s 70+ per cent local content requirement, will have to be delivered to the factory daily.
Already, some 32 South African suppliers – identified and developed in terms of Gibela’s local sourcing programme – were delivering 20% of the requirements for 20 of the new trains being built currently at an Alstom plant in Brazil, ahead of production from the South African factory, Granger said.
Two test trains built in Brazil have already been delivered to South Africa for testing in terms of an intensive, joint Gibela/PRASA testing programme at PRASA’s test facility at Wolmerton, near Pretoria. A third test train is scheduled for delivery to South Africa from Brazil during this month.
According to Granger, a 4 000m² training centre is targeted for completion on the factory site at Dunnottar by October this year. It is envisaged that, over a 10-year period, this centre will provide training in various technical fields to thousands of people, including those not directly employed by Gibela but rather working or intending to work in South Africa’s broader rail and rail-related industries.
For the 2016 academic year, Gibela had awarded 180 bursaries with a total value of R12 million to historically disadvantaged students studying at tertiary institutions around the country, Granger said. Most of the successful bursars were studying for qualifications in various engineering disciplines.
In addition, Gibela – in conjunction with Ekurhuleni East College – had successfully launched its Railway Introduction Course, free to qualifying senior students at universities and technical vocational education and training (TVET) institutions.
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