Bombardier Transportation has contracted power and automation technology group ABB to supply traction transformers and associated products for 240 freight locomotives, assisting in the formation of the backbone of South Africa’s electric rail fleet.
The $50-million order was booked in the fourth quarter of 2014. The traction units, to be installed in Bombardier’s TRAXX locomotives that are going to be built locally, would transform electricity for trains running on the country’s dual 3 kV direct-current and 25 kV alternating-current overhead voltage network.
South Africa, which had the continent’s most comprehensive railway system, was investing nearly $5-billion to renew and expand its rail fleet, not only to boost passenger travel, but also to increase its ability to efficiently ship freight, including iron-ore, for continent-wide export.
The country aimed to significantly boost the share of freight shipped by rail over the next decade.
The transformers were designed to support heavy freight loads over distances of more than 1 000 km and assisted power trains that often operate on tracks facing several challenges, including multiple power systems, steep inclines, tight curves, excessive wear, voltage drops in long sections and extreme temperatures.