Dudula Rail, a consortium comprising Stadler Rail from Switzerland, ABB South Africa and Naledi Rail Engineering, would start manufacturing passenger trains in South Africa by 2017, if it were selected preferred bidder for the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa’s (Prasa’s) 20-year rolling stock renewal programme.
Dudula is competing against six other bidders for the Prasa tender, valued at R123-billion.
As part of the bid requirements, Dudula would construct a manufacturing facility in South Africa, employing about 1 000 people and manufacturing up to 350 units a year.
Stadler business development VP Felice Massaro said at a media briefing, in Johannesburg, that Dudula would start making the first train in Switzerland by Prasa’s financial close, which was in June 2013.
It expects to move production to South Africa about two years after the first train is delivered, in April 2015.
Local workers would initially be deployed at the Switzerland plant, where they would receive training.
Massaro said Prasa had not yet fixed the number of units to be provided, but that it did make available a budget of R5.1-billion a year.
“[If Dudula wins the bid] Prasa will take four types of trains that are based on the same design; they will differ in terms of interior and overhead lines. Prasa is acquiring internal arrangements to fit different customer needs.”
The proposed trains was designed to run at a speed of 120 km/h; however, Prasa had requested a minor cost upgrade to increase the speed to 160 km/h, he said.
With Stadler eyeing the sub-Saharan market once established in South Africa, Massaro indicated that a second plant could be constructed at a later stage. “Africa is the place we want to be for the next twenty years.”
He explained that the workers and infrastructure at the Dudula plant could be moved to the Stadler South Africa facility after the bid is complete.
“The supply chain will be mostly local and will be supported to increase the local capacity and technology level,” Massaro said.
He added that the consortium also aimed to transfer skills and cooperate with universities to create a sustainable railway culture in South Africa.
As Dudula was created for the sole purpose of providing rolling stock to Prasa’s rolling stock renewal programme, the company would be deregistered if not awarded the contract.
Prasa earlier reported that it anticipated appointing the preferred bidder by the end of November.