SOUTH AFRICA: The Dunnottar industrial park where the Alstom-led Gibela joint venture will manufacture new EMUs for Prasa was officially inaugurated by President Cyril Ramaphosa and Transport Minister Blade Nzimande on October 25.

The ceremony was also attended by Deputy Minister of Transport Sindisiwe Chikunga and the Premier of Gauteng Province David Makhura, as well as Gibela CEO Thierry Darthout and Alstom’s Senior Vice-President for Middle East & Africa, Didier Pfleger.

Located near Nigel, in the Ekurhuleni district of Gauteng 50 km east of Johannesburg, the 72 ha Dunnottar Park has been developed over the past 22 months at a cost of R1bn. The Gibela assembly plant is expected to employ 1 500 people when fully operational, and will have more than 700 employees by 2020. The industrial park will also accommodate a training school and a 1·2 km test track, as well as providing facilities to house local component suppliers.

The Gibela joint venture of Alstom (61%) Ubumbano Rail (30%) and New Africa Rail (9%) is due to deliver 600 six-car X’Ttrapolis Mega EMUs to Prasa over 10 years under a R51bn contract signed in late 2013. The 1 067 mm gauge EMUs will be used on Metrorail commuter services in Gauteng, Cape Town and Durban. The first 20 pre-series EMUs have been produced at Alstom’s Lapa works in Brazil, but the remaining 580 are to be assembled locally.

The first Brazilian-built trainset was delivered to South Africa in December 2015, and the last was completed in July 2017. The first two locally-built EMUs are expected to roll out of the Dunnottar Park works by the end of this year, with a further nine following by March 2019 and 56 by the end of 2020. When fully operational, the plant will be able to turn out up to 62 trains per year.

With the contract including a commitment to sourcing local components accounting for at least 65% of the contract value, Gibela has already contracted 71 South African suppliers to provide materials, parts and services. Alstom says the joint venture’s activities are now supporting more than 4 700 jobs. According to the South African Department of Transport the investment will create a wide range of jobs and contribute to skills development, promoting black economic empowerment and support communities. The new works will also be able to produce replacement parts for those lost due to vandalism.

‘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’ said Pfleger. ‘It will become the Alstom centre of excellence for railway technology in Africa, with a positive impact for the country’s economy as a whole.’