South African State-owned logistics group Transnet’s aim was to become an original-equipment manufacturer (OEM) of locomotives within the next three to four years, CEO Brian Molefe said in late June.
“We want to build our own locomotives and trains,” he told a business briefing in Johannesburg, adding that while there were challenges ahead, he was confident that with the support of government and other stakeholders, this goal could be achieved.
OEM status spin-offs would go hand in hand with localisation and, therefore, local skills development and job creation, Molefe indicated.
In addition to its initial order of 100 locomotives from General Electric’s (GE's) local arm GE South Africa Technologies, Transnet, at the beginning of this year, agreed to purchase an additional 43 units.
“As part of our agreement we are committed, along with GE, to stringent localisation, industrialisation, skills development and job creation,” Molefe pointed out.
According to the contract, ten of the locomotives were manufactured in the US and 133 were to be assembled locally at Transnet Rail Engineering’s Koedoespoort manufacturing plant outside Pretoria, with locomotive kits provided by US-based GE Transportation in the states.
More than 54 locomotives were already in service, generating significant operational efficiencies for Transnet Freight Rail (TFR).
“This project has significant local content. The only components that come from the US are the traction motors and engines, but we are investing in research to develop our own traction motors and engines,” he told Engineering News Online.
He added that Transnet was increasingly procuring some parts locally.
Meanwhile, GE Transportation announced on Tuesday that, along with its joint venture company GE South Africa Technologies, the 42nd locomotive had been delivered.
The locomotive was the most advanced diesel-electric locomotive ever built in South Africa and overshot GE’s self-imposed target of 30% local content, achieving 37%, which was the target for the 133 locomotives to be assembled in South Africa.
GE Transportation said its first contract to supply 100 locomotives to TFR was now 50% complete.
“Transnet will be able to significantly improve hauling capability, while reducing fuel consumption and greenhouse-gas emissions,” GE Transportation global president and CEO Lorenzo Simonelli said.
Two of the new locomotives are said to be able to do the work of three older locomotives, saving 600 000 l of fuel a year and reducing emissions by 1 500 metric tons of carbon dioxide over the same period. This was equivalent to eliminating the emissions from 310 cars on South African roads.
The GE Model C30ACi is the first locomotive in the South African region to meet stringent UIC2 emissions standards and would be used to haul freight and coal, while offering decreased life-cycle costs.