South Africa’s President, Cyril Ramaphosa, officially opened the largest and most advanced centre for train manufacturing in Africa, constructed by the Alstom-led Gibela joint-venture.
The 53,000-square-metre site in Dunnottar, east of Johannesburg (Ekurhuleni) took 22 months and 2.5 million hours to complete.
Gibela’s 53,000 square-metre green field plant, spread over a 78ha site, was built at a cost of R1 billion (EUR 61 million) within the scheduled 22-month construction period. Its manufacturing workshops, covering 33,000 square metres, are designed in a modular format to enable lean manufacturing processes which will, at peak production, produce 62 trains per year. The first entirely locally produced South African train is expected to roll out of the factory at the end of 2018.
“The plant provides South Africa with its own capacity to manufacture modern trains. This will have a massive, positive impact not only on South Africa’s commuting public, but also on the country’s economy,” Gibela CEO Thierry Darthout said.
The manufacturing plant in Dunnottar will be responsible for the creation of a new, modern fleet of 580 six-car X’Trapolis Mega commuter trains to be built over the next 10 years for the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA).
“This factory is a major boost to the rail industry in the country, as South Africa will now be able to produce state-of-the-art trains locally and will become the Alstom centre of excellence for railway in Africa. This will have a positive impact not only for South African commuters, but also for the country’s economy as a whole,” said Didier Pfleger, Alstom Senior Vice President for Middle East and Africa.
The facility is equipped with latest innovations that allow advanced manufacturing processes necessary for the assembly of at least 10,000 parts and the linkage of 250 industrial activities.
A 1.2-kilometre test track for the dynamic testing of the new trains and an office complex complete this modern train production hub.
The plant is fitted with a training centre supporting the continued transfer of new rail-related skills to Gibela’s employees and suppliers. Over 700 local Gibela employees will be ready to achieve maximum manufacturing capacity at the end of 2020.
In 2013, Gibela secured the PRASA contract to build 600 X’Trapolis commuter trains (3 600 coaches) as well as the 19-year contract for maintenance, technical support and spare parts. The first 20 trains were manufactured in Alstom’s facility in Brazil.
Gibela JV comprises 61% for Alstom, 30% for Ubumbano Rail, 9% for New Africa Rail (NAR), the Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) partners selected by PRASA.