R51-billion contract commences

R51-billion contract commences

The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) and Gibela Rail Transportation – a joint venture led by Alstom and co-owned by local shareholders Ubumbano Rail and New Africa Rail – have sealed a R51-billion deal for the supply of 600 commuter trains (3 600 coaches) over the next 10 years. Gibela will also provide technical support to Prasa and supply spare parts over an 18-year period.

The new X’Trapolis train was developed by Alstom to fit South Africa’s 1,067 m gauge rail tracks. The first 20 X’Trapolis Megas will be manufactured at the Alstom plant in Lapa, Brazil. They will start reaching our shores in the fourth quarter of 2015.

But all the units won’t be manufactured abroad; Gibela will also build a R1-billion manufacturing site in Dunnottar, 10 km north of the small gold mining town of Nigel, to produce 580 trains in South Africa. The 600 000 m2 manufacturing plant is also designed to house an engineering centre and a training facility.

“Thanks to this contract, over 3 000 new Metrorail coaches – specifically designed for South Africa, and featuring high standards of safety, reliability and comfort – will soon replace the old generation coaches.” says Lucky Montana, Prasa Group CEO. “This will substantially change the quality of passenger service and will improve the daily journeys of more than two million South Africans.”

Marc Granger, Gibela’s CEO, adds: “We are excited about reaching this significant milestone. It paves the way to start with our industrialisation efforts as required by this contract – which forms part of a broader strategy to localise and to reinvigorate the railway sector in South Africa. To date, we have signed Letters of Intent with 35 suppliers for a wide range of components and raw materials to be sourced from within South Africa.”

It’s estimated that the project will create over 33 000 direct and indirect jobs over the next ten years, achieving a local content level of over 65 percent. Gibela will train an estimated 19 000 people – artisans, technicians, train drivers, technologists and engineers – during the life of the project.

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