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Construction on Dunnottar rail industrial park to start 2015

Publication: Engineering news

Speaking in Johannesburg, he said PRASA should start using these first new trains, which will replace its old Metrorail rolling stock, in 2016.

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, said Gibela CEO Marc Granger on Thursday.

Speaking in Johannesburg, he said 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, said 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 was scheduled to start in 2017. They should have roughly 65% to 70% local content.

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

Payment during the first five years of the deal would be in rand, moving to multicurrency payments.

Gibela had already received its first payment from Treasury, Granger added.

He also noted that Gibela had 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 would be influenced by the trains’ operating schedule.

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

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

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

The train Gibela would supply to PRASA was the X’Trapolis MEtric GAuge (Mega) unit.

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

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

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

These suppliers would 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 said the global General Electric (GE) deal, currently being trashed out, whereby GE would acquire Alstom’s energy-related businesses, would not influence the Gibela–PRASA transaction.

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

“It does not create any constraints on Alstom Transport.”