SOUTH AFRICAN operator Spoornet has awarded a R300m contract to Adtranz for the upgrading of 45 Class 11E locomotives which run on the 25 kV 50Hz heavy-haul coal line to Richards Bay. This follows the contract for Alstom to renew the 31 Class 9E heavy-haul electric locos (RG 9.00 p511). Tenders are to be called shortly for refurbishing 200 Class 6E locos for 3 kV DC routes.

Average age of Spoornet’s 1932 electric and 1270 diesel locos is 26 years. General Manager, Planning & Technology, Leo Petkoon says 2488 have a technological age greater than 20 years, leading to sub-optimal performance and increasing operating costs. Selective refurbishment and purchase of new locos is envisaged under the railway’s current 15-year modernisation strategy, which is expected to average R1bn a year.

By streamlining and attaining greater standardisation, Spoornet hopes to reduce its loco fleet from 3202 to 1551 and double productivity. As a first step, electronic control systems are to be improved. Petkoon hopes to see the first new-generation locomotives on Spoornet tracks by 2004. International consultants are currently evaluating available technology, cost, attainable performance and delivery schedules.