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PRASA completes major construction works and launches new trains

 

His Excellency President Zuma, National Minister of Transport, Mr Joe Maswanganyi (right of the President); Gauteng MEC for Transport, Mr Ismael Vadi (to the left of the President) and members of the Business Readiness team and members of PRASA Staff

Pretoria – President Zuma today successfully launched the new PRASA trains operated by Metrorail.  The new trains, affectionately known as The People’s Train, are part of PRASA’s Modernisation Programme which will be implemented over the next 20 years. As part of this Programme, the passenger rail infrastructure and systems will also be upgraded over a period ahead.  Passengers travelling between Pretoria and Piennarspoort will now travel using the new state-of-the-art trains.


This significant milestone comes less than 10 years since PRASA was established to address the decline of passenger rail and drive the re-investment into passenger rail modernisation. In 2004, Cabinet approved the consolidation of Passenger Rail Entities from Transnet and the South African Transport Service (SATA) creating a single Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA).


With the President’s launch of the PRASA’s new service, South African commuters will now experience a world-class service at affordable rates. PRASA’s new trains offer faster travel times, reliable service, improved security with CCTV cameras and a fully air-conditioned train. Once rolled-out nationally, this world-class travel experience will be available to the majority of South Africa’s commuters.


The new trains are therefore the beginning of a 20-year Modernisation Programme in response to the mandate to modernise passenger rail.  The Modernisation Programme espouses the National Development Plan’s vision 2030 that aims to eliminate poverty and reduce inequality by 2030. 


PRASA has entered into a contract with the Gibela Rail Transport Consortium in 2013 to deliver 600 new train-sets, with 580 to be produced locally and 20 manufactured in Brazil. The manufacturing of the locally produced train-sets will see the construction of the new Train Manufacturing Plant valued at approximately R 1 billion at Dunnottar Park, City of Ekurhuleni. This is line with the contractual obligation for Gibela to meet a minimum 65% localisation on the manufacturing of its new trains as per the Industrial Policy Action Plan (IPAP2). 


The Local Manufacturing plant which is currently under construction will, once completed, employ approximately 1 500 people, 99% of which will be South Africans, 85% historically disadvantaged and 25% of this being women. The manufacturing activities have been progressing well, with a total of 38 local components having been used in the manufacturing of the first 20 trains that were manufactured in Brazil. Currently, Gibela is engaging various local suppliers in preparation to enter into contracts to supply various components for local production. In addition, the Manufacturing Plant will, once complete, also house a Training Centre designed to train approximately 19 527 individuals in various rail focused skills in order to create a pool of skilled individuals to feed the rail industry with skilled labour.    


The Local Manufacturing Plant will also consist of a Supplier Park which will house suppliers who will manufacture various train components.  The Supplier Park will be driven by Gibela BBBEE shareholder (Ubumbano) who holds a 30% stake in the Gibela Consortium. 


In early October 2016, Gibela launched Maths, Science and English classes in Duduza, Nigel and Kwa-Thema, City of Ekurhuleni.  Working with the Department of Basic Education, Gibela is assisting 450 learners from 17 schools in Nigel, Duduza, and Kwa-Thema with classes on Saturdays for grade 10, 11 and 12 with 50 learners in each class. The support includes teaching aids for educators and learning aids for students over three years. The cost amounting to R6.7 million for the learning support is fully covered though the Rolling Stock Programme as part of socio-economic objectives. R13 million was made available in bursaries to fund 200 students at tertiary level within various areas of rail engineering and other critical fields.

       

CHOOSING THE FIRST DEPLOYMENT CORRIDOR
The decision to roll-out the trains between Pretoria Station and Piennarspoort Station as the first deployment corridor took into account its low risk as an operational corridor, access to staging yard and depot and infrastructure readiness.  
The current trains will continue to run over the next 15 years while PRASA rolls out the Modernisation Programme for the new trains and infrastructure upgrades.  During this time, PRASA will continue to upgrade the current trains and keep them operational until such time that all the current trains have been replaced.

 

This brings new hope for job opportunities and growth within the rail sector that has been neglected for over 40 years.  PRASA is in a unique position of striving to modernise passenger rail while continuing to deliver services to approximately 2.9 million people daily.  The modernisation of passenger rail service will not be instant but will take 20 years to achieve.  The benefits, however, of skills development, local business development, and sustainable employment opportunities will leave a lasting legacy for all South Africans.



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