As 2017 draws to a close, the new factory and training centre complex and corporate office of emerging South African commuter train manufacturer Gibela, at Dunnottar in Ekurhuleni, is nearly complete – just short of two years from the start of construction.
From 2 January 2018, the company’s current 400+ fulltime employees will be based at the complex at 2 Shosholoza Avenue, and work will begin in earnest on the manufacture of the first of 580 six-car X-Trapolis Mega commuter trains to be built over the next 10 years for the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA).
At the forefront of the manufacturing process will be more than 200 South African engineers and technicians – most historically disadvantaged – who have been specially trained and orientated by Gibela and its majority shareholder, Alstom, at the latter’s train-building centres of excellence around the world. During 2017, 50 skilled and semi-skilled artisans from Ekurhuleni were recruited for the manufacturing process.
By the end of the first quarter of 2018, the first train’s car body shell – essentially, its metal panel-clad metal frame – is expected to be completed. By the end of 2018, the first South African-built train should be ready for delivery to PRASA.
At peak production – planned for the end of 2019 – more than 1 000 employees are expected to be turning out an average of seven and a half cars a week and five trains a month – an average of 62 trains a year.
Eighteen of 20 trains built at Alstom’s Lapa, Brazil factory – using South African materials and involving South Africans – have been in commercial service for the best part of 2017 and are estimated to have already clocked up, in total, more than half a million kilometres.
One of the two trains built in Brazil – used initially for testing purposes – will now be based at Gibela’s bespoke training centre at Dunnottar, where they will be instrumental in the training of some 19 500 artisans and technicians for Gibela and for the rejuvenated South African rail sector as a whole over the next 10 years. Of 65 apprentices selected during 2017, most have already begun their training at the Gibela training centre.
To meet its local content commitment of at least 65% of contract value, Gibela has on-boarded 54 South suppliers to supply materials, parts and services. More than 4 700 South African jobs are being supported by the company’s activities.
Gibela is also forging ahead with arrangements to deliver on its 19-year agreement with PRASA to provide technical support and the supply of parts to PRASA for the new trains, as they enter commercial service.
Issued by Gibela