/ MEDIA STATEMENT / This content is not written by Creamer Media, but is a supplied media statement.
Hundreds of Gibela employees gathered today to give a rousing send-off to the first South African-built X’trapolis Mega commuter train.
To the strains of vuvuzelas and loud cheers, the six-car train left Gibela’s new train-manufacturing complex at Dunnottar in Ekurhuleni, en route for the Wolmerton depot of the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA), north of Pretoria.
Gibela’s CEO, Thierry Darthout says the train has taken 14 months to complete, with production beginning in September 2017.
“This train has been built whilst finishing construction of one of the largest manufacturing plants in the world; furnishing the car body shell workshop with 19 state-of-the-art process innovations and commissioning high-tech equipment. Coordinating multiple processes and reaching these major milestones at the same time is an achievement in and of itself.”
“But today, seeing off this modern train, the first in a generation, I am reminded that every hour devoted by Gibela’s dynamic and aspirational team has been worth it. This train is for them – and for their fellow South Africans”.
“We are hugely indebted to our majority shareholder, Alstom, for the invaluable support they have given us in the transfer of technology programme that enabled today’s feat and also for their continued support of our operational endeavours,” says Gibela’s CEO, Thierry Darthout.
About 800 full-time Gibela employees are currently involved in various phases of the manufacturing process and around 100 local suppliers in the provision of various components and services. These numbers are set to rise as train production ramps up in the months ahead.
Currently, there are two trains undergoing testing and commissioning, with 16 cars in the fitting workshop and 23 in the car body shell workshop.
At full production, the Gibela plant will turn out 62 trains a year; and a total of 580 trains over the next 10 years. This amounts to the fastest train production rate in in the world.
Group Executive: Strategic Asset Development at PRASA, Piet Sebola, says Gibela’s state-of the art commuter trains are at the heart of delivering to South Africa’s public “a safe, reliable and comfortable commuting experience that cannot be postponed”.
“It has been encouraging, in the preparation for the manufacture of this first South African-built X’Trapolis Mega train, to see hundreds of young South Africans – many of them women – undergo training as artisans and technicians, and to then play a central role in the manufacturing process itself,” he says.