Gautrain has started the process of acquiring 12 new trains of four cars each.
Bombela Concession Company, the operator of the Gautrain system, has launched a request for qualification (RFQ) for the new rolling stock.
A RFQ seeks to invite suppliers into a bidding process.
The contract includes the design, manufacture, supply and maintenance of the new rolling stock, depot extensions to accommodate the new trains, signalling upgrades, as well as the construction of pocket tracks on the 82 km system for the parking of broken-down trains and maintenance equipment.
Bombela currently operates 24 trains (96 cars), based on Bombardier’s Electrostar family, on a system that links Johannesburg, Pretoria and the OR Tambo International Airport.
The new trains do not have to come from the same family or manufacturer, but have to operate successfully under similar conditions, says Gautrain Management Agency CEO Jack van der Merwe.
He says the new rolling stock will alleviate peak-hour pressure on the system.
“We have done everything to tweak the system to better accommodate rush-hour traffic. We removed seats from trains to increase capacity, we increased the number of trains per hour and we offered lower off-peak tariffs. Now we need more rolling stock.”
The Gautrain carries between 50 000 and 60 000 people a day.
The new rolling stock should enter the system in 2018, “should everything go according to plan”.
The price tag on the new trains, plus the depot and track expansions, should be around R2.5-billion to R3-billion. However, the weak rand “is going to punish us”, warns Van der Merwe.
The Gautrain government will foot the bill for the rolling stock, and has already secured a loan from the Development Bank of Southern Africa for the purchase.
It is, however, open to alternative funding options as presented by the successful bidder.
Van der Merwe says government aims for the successful bidder to manufacture the rolling stock in South Africa.
“The new rolling stock will see the Gautrain through to 2026 in terms of capacity requirements,” he adds.
The RFQ document will be available on January 11.