NATIONAL NEWS - The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) will soon replace its ageing Metrorail fleet with a new model, the organisation said on Friday.
The Test Train No 1, or T1 as it is known, has arrived at Pretoria’s Wolmerton Depot, 18 months after Prasa and Gibela Rail Transport Consortium reached a financial close.
Prasa Board Chairman Popo Molefe said the 2013/14 financial year saw Prasa commence its R172 billion investment in the “acquisition of modern state-of-the-art passenger trains and the support infrastructure over a period of 10 years.” This investment will replace the current Metrorail rolling stock and meet future rail demands.
T1’s arrival “signals the start of our journey to modernise passenger rail infrastructure and services” through Prasa’s Rolling Stock Fleet Renewal Programme.
He said: “T1 has been specifically built as a test train where all key testing will be done” over a seven-month period.
T1 has been specifically built as a test train which means that it will not have any of the normal commuter train fittings such as chairs but will have all its electronic panels exposed and basic structural fittings will be marked for ease of reference during testing and all the data gathered from the tests will be used to validate the train safety, design and performance parameters.
A second test train was scheduled to arrive in 2016.
“We are in the process of building modern rolling stock that will form the backbone of a world class metro service that is safe, reliable, and affordable,” Molefe said.
The new fleet would “meet future rail demands” and would also be designed with universal access features to provide accessibility for people with disabilities, have a 40-year design life and a black box data recorder among other features.
The first 20 trains would be built in Brazil and the remainder in South Africa at a new facility.
T1, Molefe noted, is the first train to be built out of a planned 600 trains which would be configured as “six cars per train to be able to transport 1,346 passengers.”
The new facility, Molefe said, would form “part of a manufacturing hub in Ekurhuleni in line with Government’s Industrialisation Plan” which would see the “promotion of local skills and industry development”.
Gibela CEO Marc Granger said that the fleet renewal programme would see the transference of skills to newly trained train drivers.
Prasa Group CEO Nathi Khena said the local manufacturing plant was expected to achieve 67% of local content over the delivery period, and increase this to 75 percent by the end of ten years.
The fifth year of the project should see locals comprise 80 percent of the workforce.
Molefe noted that government’s investment in the rolling out of a new fleet showcased its “commitment towards developing a high quality transport system” that includes key infrastructure progammes such as signalling, depots, perway and station modernisation.
Molefe added: “Prasa is serious about delivering on its mandate” and to meet stakeholders’ expectations.
Source: African News Agency (ANA)