Alstom-led Gibela joint venture has started construction of its new vehicle manufacturing plant in South Africa, which will build the majority of the country’s new X’Trapolis Mega commuter trains.
The new manufacturing and maintenance facility in Dunnotar will build 580 of the 600 new suburban trains for the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) under a major fleet renewal.
Construction of the new 60,000m² facility is expected to take 18 months, following which the production line will move across from the company’s Lapa plant in Brazil, where the first 20 six-car trains are being built.
To be built in phases, the new facility will deliver 3,480 coaches over the next ten years, with the first South African-manufactured train to be completed by the end of next year.
The site is expected to create more than 1,500 direct jobs at the manufacturing, assembly and testing facilities. It will include an academic training centre, large workshops and office buildings, as well as a test track and testing facility required for the trains.
Alstom CEO Henri Poupart-Lafarge said: "After successfully delivering the first two X’Trapolis Mega commuter trains on time, Alstom is pleased to have reached another key milestone for this significant project.
"This new factory will be a catalyst for the revitalisation of the rail industry in South Africa through local manufacturing, high local supply level, employment creation and skills development.
"Alstom is proud to be involved in this new era of rail in the country."
The X’Trapolis Mega trains are under a €4bn contract signed between Alstom and PRASA in October 2013. The trains will be capable of travelling at up to 120km per hour and can be upgraded to 160km per hour.
Developed to fit the 1.067m gauge in South Africa, each single-deck train will have six cars and can carry more than 1,300 passengers.
Image: Executives of the parties at the groundbreaking ceremony of the new railway vehicle manufacturing plant. Photo: courtesy of Alstrom.