South Africa to purchase new trains to replace ancient rail fleet


The Gibela Rail Transport Consortium (Gibela), comprising Alstom-Actom has beaten out several other rail companies and consortia, to be named as the preferred supplier for the PRASA Rolling Stock Fleet Renewal Programme which will see “3600 vehicles delivered over a 10 year period from 2015 to 2025, with a cost implication of R51 billion”.

Check out the trains produced by Alstom here

The preferred bidder was competing against CSR WICTRA (Pty) Limited (CSR-Wictra), Bombardier Transportation (Rolling Stock) South Africa Pty (Bombardier), Dudula Rail (Pty) Limited (Dudula),  China CNR Corporation Limited (CNR),  CSR EMU Supply (Pty) Limited (CSR) and Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles S.A. (CAF).

According to PRASA, the Rolling Stock Fleet Renewal Programme is “the catalyst for the transformation of Metrorail services and public transport as a whole” and a “critical part of the rollout of the Government’s Comprehensive Rail Programme over the next two decades”.

Of the 4 638 coaches for Metrorail currently in operation in Gauteng, Durban, the Western Cape and Eastern Cape, about 90 per cent in operation dates back to the late 1950s. The last new trains comprising only 2 per cent of the commuter rail fleet were purchased in the mid 1980s and the systems technology on this fleet is also old and inherently obsolete

The average age of the current coaches is 39 years while the life span of railway rolling stock is of the order of an average 46 years. The railway industry norms and standards are that the coaches will be upgraded when they reach 27 years, and overhauled every 9 years, so as to ensure that the structural and sub-systems integrity is not compromised by metal fatigue, age, wear and tear or environmental condition.

In addition to the delivery of the rolling stock, the preferred bidder will offer the following:

  • Maintenance, spares supply and technical support on vehicles over 18 year   to 2033;
  • Spending of R797 million on skills development initiatives;
  • Spending of R746 million on the development of enterprises in the rail sector;
  • Spending of R273 million on Socio-Economic Development contributions;

With over 8,000 direct jobs anticipated, the aim will be to achieve local content of 69% of the production of the rolling stock by year 2, utilizing the Transnet Rail Engineering factory, expected to be operational by 2016. It is expected that the delivery of the first test trains will take place in early 2015, while the first operational trains delivered by end 2015.

Shanghai Metropolis ALSTOM Transport / F.Christophorides

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