Johannesburg - The Passenger Railway Agency of SA (Prasa) has signed the first phase of a projected R123 billion contract towards the upgrading of the country's railways and trains, it said on Monday.
“Through the rolling stock programme, (Prasa) is in the process to procure approximately 7224 new rolling stock with a projected investment of R123 billion over 20 years,” spokesman Moffet Mofokeng said in a statement.
The first phase, worth R51bn, was signed with Gibela (led by French multinational Alstom) for the supply of 600 passenger trains to be delivered between years 2015 and 2025, Mofokeng said.
“The contract... includes the construction of a local manufacturing facility. In addition to this contract, Gibela will provide technical support and supply of spare parts over an 18-year period.”
The manufacturing site would be built in Ekurhuleni, east of Johannesburg, to produce the trains. Construction was to start early next year.
Ageing trains currently in service in the country's major cities would be replaced with 1200 electric trains over a period of 20
The contract was signed in Sandton, Johannesburg at an event attended by President Jacob Zuma and French President Francois Hollande.
Alstom was said to be proud to be selected for the project and expressed unwavering commitment.
“We believe our trains will set a high standard in serving the interests of commuters,” company head Henri Poupart-Lafarge was quoted as saying.
One of the trains to be built was the 'X’Trapolis Mega' developed to fit the country's tracks.
“The train can travel at speeds of up to 120km/h with the ability to be upgraded to 160 km/h. Each single-deck train is composed of six cars and is able to carry more than 1300 passengers,” Mofokeng said.
“The project will create over 1500 direct jobs in the local factory and 33 000 indirect jobs over the first 10 years.”