South African plant assembles first Alstom-designed trains
South African rolling stock manufacturer Gibela has assembled the first two X’Trapolis Mega electric trains designed by Alstom. The vehicles were produced for the Cape Town commuter service operated by the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA). The plant will produce 580 six-car units in the next years.
The manufacturing process was launched at the Gibela plant in October 2018. The first South African-made trains were demonstrated on 9 April. “This programme aims to revitalise the rail industry through local manufacturing of parts, maintenance, the establishment of training facilities, the achievement of 65 per cent local content, and training and skills development for PRASA employees and young people interested in the rail industry,” said Cyril Ramaphosa, president of South Africa, at the official ceremony.
X’Trapolis Mega trains
The X’Trapolis Mega vehicles belong to the X’Trapolis family of the electric passenger trains being developed by Alstom since the 1990s. These trainsets serve the commuter routes in Chile, Australia, France, Spain, Germany, Denmark and Portugal. The X’Trapolis Mega type was designed especially for the South African network with a 1,067-millimetre gauge. PRASA ordered 600 six-car trains in October 2013 for 4 billion Euros. The first X’Trapolis Mega units were delivered by Alstom in December 2016. They were produced at Alstom’s Lapa factory in Brazil. Each train has a total capacity of 1,200 passengers.
The Gibela plant is a joint venture of Alstom (61 per cent), Ubumbano Rail (30 per cent) and New Africa Rail (9 per cent). The facility is located at Dunnottar, 50 kilometres southeast from Johannesburg. The 78-hectare facility employs 800 people. The owners invested 1 billion Rands (around 63 million Euros) in the project. The plant has a manufacturing capacity of 62 trains per year. “Gibela is contributing to the economic development of South Africa. We believe the future is rail,” noted Thierry Darthout, CEO of Gibela.