New trains will benefit SA: Prasa

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Johannesburg - South Africa will benefit from the multi-billion rand project that will see Prasa gradually replace its current outdated train fleet, Gibela, the company responsible for doing so, said on Thursday.

“South Africa a long time ago was a well developed railway country,” CEO Marc Granger told reporters in Johannesburg.

“This industry has not disappeared but has not benefited from investment for a long time.”

Gibela's commitment was to help revitalise the industry in South Africa, as the project was not simply about building commuter trains.

“Training will be key and transferring skills and technology is a key driver of our organisation,” he said.

The company would directly employ around 1500 people with another 8000 direct jobs created within the supply chain process.

He said thousands of other jobs would also be indirectly created as a result.

Gibela is majority owned by France-based Alstom, at 61 percent, with 39 percent locally held.

“All the know how and technology is coming from Alstom. Over time we will transfer skills to local team members,” Granger said.

The Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) and Gibela signed the R51 billion contract for the project in October 2013, with Gibela charged with supplying 600 trains over a 10-year period.

The first 20 trains Prasa received would have been manufactured in Brazil with South Africans involved as part of skills training, with the remaining 580 to be made in South Africa where a factory would be established.

This would be in an area 70 hectares in size in Dunnotar, east of Johannesburg, where parts would also be manufactured and other facilities associated with the project placed.

The first trains, featuring six coaches each, accommodating 1200 people, and travelling at around 120km/h, would be delivered at the end of 2015.

They would then start to become part of Prasa's service in June 2016, with the first trains to be produced in South Africa in 2017.

A maintenance contract separate to the rolling stock contract had also been signed, though its value would be dictated by the distances the trains covered.

Granger suggested the maintenance contract could be worth around R10bn, but this was not a set figure.

Sapa


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