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PRASA New Rolling Stock Acquisition Programme, South Africa – update

Image of railway tracks

19th May 2023

By: Sheila Barradas

Creamer Media Research Coordinator & Senior Deputy Editor


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Name of the Project
PRASA New Rolling Stock Acquisition Programme.

South Africa.

Project Owner/s
Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA).

Project Description
PRASA and Gibela signed the Manufacture and Supply Agreement, and the Technical Support and Spares Supply Agreement (which governs the maintenance of the new trains) in October 2013 as part of its New Rolling Stock Acquisition Programme. The Gibela consortium is led by Alstom Southern Africa, with the participation of local companies Ubumbano Rail and New Africa Rail.

The programme involves the acquisition of 7 224 new rail vehicles and will be rolled out in two ten-year phases.

The first ten years will involve the supply of 600 new trains comprising 3 600 coaches, with the remainder to be manufactured over another ten years.

The first 20 trains will be manufactured in Brazil, with the remainder to be manufactured in South Africa, where Gibela is building a 600 000 m2 plant in Dunnottar, 50 km from Johannesburg. The plant includes a 4 000 m2 training centre which, at peak production, will produce about 62 trains a year. 

Every train will comprise six cars capable of transporting more than 1 300 passengers. The trains will travel at speeds of up to 120 km/h and could be upgraded to travel 160 km/h.

PRASA modernisation programme
In support of the acquisition programme, PRASA has embarked on a major modernisation programme aimed at updating all rail infrastructure, in line with the new trains. 

The modernisation includes the design and construction of the Wolmerton and Braamfontein depots, in Gauteng, and three other depots in the rest of the country; station modernisation; a rolling stock refurbishment programme; and perway, bridges, infrastructure and signalling upgrades.

Potential Job Creation
The project will create 65 000 direct and indirect jobs.

The project has, to date, provided 200 bursaries in fields varying from engineering to accounting, as well as 65 learnerships in disciplines such as fitting and welding. The project also houses 270 apprentices.

Capital Expenditure
PRASA plans to invest R172-billion from 2013/14 to 2023. The manufacturing contracts are valued at R123.5-billion. The medium-term expenditure framework for the depot modernisation is estimated at R3.1-billion.

Planned Start/End Date
The programme will be undertaken over 20 years.

Latest Developments
Siemens Mobility has successfully completed the Gauteng resignalling project, which it has described as “the biggest signalling project in South African history”.

The project was undertaken to enable PRASA to provide safer and more reliable railway services for commuters in the province.

The project included a PRASA pilot European Train Control System (ETCS) installation for seven of its stations to ensure that the agency is ETCS Level 2-ready. This provides the flexibility to meet future network growth and better safety standards through digital-based interlocking.

Siemens Mobility replaced the obsolete relay-based signalling, some of which predated World War II, with a new system based on electronic interlocking technology – Siemens Computer-Aided Signalling S7 – which complies with Safety Integrity Level-4.

The new systems means that PRASA has a fully bidirectional system designed for 2.5 minute headways, with the ability to optimise timetable planning, with remote monitoring and fault-finding solutions for technicians.

The resignalling project was executed in two phases. The first phase, Gauteng 1 (G1), was awarded in April 2011 and involved the construction of a Gauteng Nerve Centre (GNC) and the resignalling of 17 stations.

The second phase, Gauteng 2 (G2), was awarded in March 2014 and involved the construction of a new Central Train Control (CTC), in Germiston; the resignalling of an additional 72 stations; and track and overhead traction works to improve the flexibility of train operations.

At its peak, the Siemens Mobility team delivered signalling infrastructure to two stations a month while managing a project schedule of more than 11 000 line items. G1 and G2 catered for the consolidation of 33 decentralised CTC/signal cabins into the GNC in Kaalfontein, with eight satellite CTCs, which will be used for business continuity. 

PRASA personnel have been fully trained to enable the migration and effectively handle the new technology.

On-the-job theoretical and practical training took place over 18 months, with more than 4 000 days' training provided for PRASA staff through training centres at Braamfontein and the GNC.

To maximise local content, Siemens Mobility established a supplier development programme, and set up a local assembly and manufacturing facility in Northriding, Johannesburg.

The company employed 15 subcontractors and worked closely with about 50 small-, medium-sized and microenterprises, with about 20 of them benefiting directly from the enterprise and supplier development programmes.

Key Contracts, Suppliers and,Consultants
Gibela, led by Alstom Southern Africa, with the participation of local companies Ubumbano Rail and New Africa Rail (600 X’Ttrapolis Mega trains). The local suppliers to Gibela include Siyahamba Engineering (cabin doors and interiors, including partition walls); Booyco Engineering (saloon heaters, driver footrests); ILVA  General Engineering (air tank reservoirs); KAMA Industries (horns); Profibre (passenger seats and longitudinal benches); KARE Industrial (battery boxes); First National Battery (batteries); Denel (baseboard ducts); Global Composite (luggage racks, equipped ceiling, cab and saloon air ducts); Delberg Engineering & Quality Systems (handbars and backrests); Radél (passenger and cab lighting, door-light and voltage indicators); Gibb (insulation); Crest Information Systems (door external fairing, extract air duct in cubicles); Laser Junction (brackets, cab foot steps); Laser Junction/General Profiling Matla Steel (coupler push backs); Laser Junction/SPE (tool boxes); Jandinox (equipment support); Buzas (obstacle deflectors); Columbus Stainless/Macsteel (stainless steel); ArcelorMittal South Africa/Macsteel (carbon steel); LED Lighting SA (external front/cab lighting); Aberdare Cables (cables and wires); and Forminox (piping).

Contact Details for Project Information
PRASA, tel +27 12 748 7000 or email

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter




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