South Africa's State-owned freight logistics group Transnet has signed an agreement with General Electric South Africa Technologies (GESAT), to supply 100 new diesel locomotives for use mainly in the utility's general freight business.
The deal was signed at a ceremony in Johannesburg by Transnet's Pradeep Maharaj and GESAT acting CE Swaady Marie Martin.
The first locomotive is to be delivered in 2011 and the last in 2012, Transnet said.
Under the terms of the commercial contract, GESAT will work with Transnet Rail Engineering in executing the order, as part of Transnet’s efforts to localise supply of imported equipment in its R80-billion capital investment programme to promote industrial development.
GE Transportation said separately that ten of the locomotives will be manufactured in Erie and Grove City, US, and 90 will be manufactured locally at Transnet Rail Engineering's site in South Africa with kits provided by GE Transportation.
GE's model C30ACi, the first AC diesel electric locomotive to be introduced to sub-Saharan Africa, will have an engine that delivers 3 300 Gross HorsePower (GHP) using an electronic fuel-injection system that automatically supplies the exact amount of fuel needed for optimal engine efficiency.
The locomotives will also feature GE's unique AC propulsion technology and dynamic braking.
“The addition of these new locomotives, which will be used to haul freight and coal, will decrease life-cycle costs, improve fuel efficiency and reduce emissions,” GE said.
The first locomotives and kits are scheduled to be delivered in early 2011; and locomotive assembly in country, with kits from Erie and engines from Grove City, should begin at the end of 2010.
“This is a very exciting transaction for us. We are thrilled at being able to leverage the transfer of skills, protect local employment and transfer technology into South Africa from the original-equipment manufacturer,” Transnet acting CE Chris Wells said in a statement.
The GE deal is the biggest commitment by Transnet under the government-led Competitive Supplier Development Programme, and Wells said the group plans to expand the CSDP programme to the acquisition of port equipment as well.
“As we progressively implement Transnet’s fleet renewal strategy to augment the ageing general freight business fleet, we expect service levels to our customers, including safety, to improve significantly,” he added.
In late 2008, Transnet issued an “urgent” tender for the locomotives, after it was forced to withdraw an earlier tender for 212 diesel locomotives, amid reports and then confirmation of tender irregularities.
The initial tender was issued as early as September 2006, and in August 2007, Electromotive Diesel (EMD), of the US, was named as the preferred bidder for the R6-billion contract to supply 212 trains.
The second tender was confined to EMD, GESAT and Siemens, in an effort to speed up the process and Engineering News Online reported earlier this month that GESAT had been identified as the preferred bidder.
The irregularities that emerged over the initial tender eventually led to the high-profile suspension of Transnet Freight Rail CEO Siyabonga Gama.