PRASA signs R51bn train renewal contract

Alstom SA joint-venture Gibela and the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) have signed a R51 billion contract for the supply of 600 passenger trains, made up of 3,600 coaches, to be delivered between 2015 and 2025.

The contract, which was signed by PRASA group CEO Lucky Montana, Alstom chairperson and CEO Patrick Kron and Alstom Transport president Henri Poupart-Lafarge also included the construction of a manufacturing facility in Ekurhuleni and would house an engineering centre and a training facility.

Construction on the manufacturing facility was expected to start in 2014, with the factory to come on line in 2015.

"The PRASA fleet renewal programme is the catalyst for the transformation of Metrorail services and public transport in South Africa as a whole," PRASA's CEO said in a statement. "It is the beginning of the roll-out of government's comprehensive rail programme. While the urgent challenge to improve passenger services remains primary, the rolling stock programme has been designed to achieve government's objectives of developing skills, creating jobs and delivering quality services to citizens."

Gibela, 61 percent owned by the Alstom, will provide technical support and spare parts for 18 years in addition to the contract.

"Alstom is proud to have been selected by PRASA for a project of this magnitude. We are fully committed to mobilising the best of our technology and expertise through our South African joint venture Gibela and we believe our trains will set a high standard in serving the interests of commuters," Henri Poupart-Lafarge said.

The contract is part of PRASA's aim to revitalise South Africa's rail industry, create jobs and provide efficient, reliable and safe public transport. The programme was launched in 2010 and will replace the ageing suburban trains in service in Pretoria, Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban, with 1,200 electric trains over a period of 20 years.

PRASA will be supplied with X'Trapolis Mega, the new X'Trapolis train developed by Alstom to fit the 1.067 metre gauge in South Africa.

The train can travel at speeds of up to 120km/h with the ability to be upgraded to 160km/h.

The first 20 trains would be manufactured at Alstom's facility in Brazil, while the South African manufacturing facility is being completed.

French multinational Alstom is the majority shareholder in the Gibela consortium, which also includes local engineering company Actom and broad-based black economic-empowerment partners Khiphunyawo Rail, Community Rail Services and Elgin-Identity Rail Corporation.

The project will create more than 1,500 direct jobs in the local factory and more than 33,000 indirect jobs over the first ten years, achieving a local-content level of more than 65 percent.

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Image: © Alstom

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