There is a little bit of Wallonia in the new SA commuter trains!21/06/2017

The first X’Trapolis commuter trains supplied by GIbela to Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) have begun their commercial service on 9 May 2017.

Jacob Zuma, the State President of the Republic of South Africa, unveiled the first new trains at Pretoria station in front of more than 2000 guests. The trains will initially run in the Koedoespoort – Rissik Corridor in Pretoria during peak and off-peak hours with a total of 146 trips a day.

Gibela is a joint venture led by Alstom (61%) and co-owned by local shareholders, Ubumbano Rail (30%) and New Africa Rail (9%).

These first twenty trains have been manufactured at Alstom’s Lapa factory in Brazil.  They are part of those to be delivered under a R59-billion (€4 billion) contract to supply PRASA with 600 new trains. The remaining 580 trains will be produced locally at the Gibela’s manufacturing facility in Dunnottar (Nigel). The plant is well underway and due to be completed by the end of this year. At peak production, Gibela will produce 62 trains a year (each train-set comprises six cars).

High tech components of the trains are to be sourced from the Alstom subsidiary in Charleroi Belgium, in particular in power electronics and signalling equipment. Indeed, Charleroi-based Alstom production plant will be in charge of the engineering, testing and commissioning of, on the one hand, a new 3KV converter and, on the other hand, of 5 types of low voltage cubicles. Besides this, the ETCS centre of expertise of Alstom in Charleroi will be responsible for the supply and the integration of the ETCS level 2 signalisation system that will equip the 600 trains. The same site will subsequently transfer the engineering technology and the fabrication of this system to the newly built Gibela production unit in South Africa.

The ETCS level 2 equipment is currently the most technologically advanced system, for both usages, i.e. as equipment on the trains and as equipment of the infrastructure; it is also a worldwide commercial success.

The impacts of this mega-contract for the subsidiary of the Alstom group in Charleroi will therefore be extremely positive.