South Africa is set to launch a train manufacturing factory at Dunnottar Park in Nigel, Ekurhuleni, Gauteng province by Transport Minister Blade Nzimande on Thursday . The launch will coincide with the commemoration of Transport Month, which focuses on demonstrating service delivery and showcasing transport infrastructure and services, including rail, road, maritime, aviation and public transport.
Passenger rail, which is managed by the the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) has been a focus for Transnet, South Africa’s transport company, as part of a grand plan to improve rail infrastructure in the country.
The 72-hectare site at Dunnottar Park, which cost R1 billion ($70.2 million), consists of a Supplier Park and Rail Training School, which will manufacture, assemble, test, commission and deliver 580 new commuter trains, as the country continued to replace existing fleet of suburban trains built between 1962 and 1985, with new trains that will provide far greater safety and comfort for passengers and are capable of speeds up to 160km/hr.
“This massive investment will include the local manufacturing of parts, maintenance, training facilities, creation of jobs, skills development, the achievement of a 65 percent local content, and it will promote black economic empowerment and support communities,” the Transport department said.
“The plant will deliver two new trains by December 2018, an approximation of nine trains by March 2019 and an estimated total of 56 trains over the next two years thereafter if bulk service challenges are overcome,” the department added.
Construction of the factory began in January 2016, with manufacturing activities starting in 2017. The project, the department said, will alleviate challenges of overcrowding and delayed arrival of trains and provide an affordable, efficient and reliable rail service for South Africans.
The launch of the train factory is expected to create much-needed jobs in South Africa where unemployment is high, while attracting investment and boosting the economy of the country.