Currently, there are two trains undergoing testing and commissioning, but hundreds more are coming.
Hundreds of Gibela employees gathered on December 7 to give a rousing send-off to the first South African-built X’trapolis Mega commuter train, reports Kempton Express.
To the strains of vuvuzelas and loud cheers, the six-car train left Gibela’s new train-manufacturing complex in Dunnottar in Ekurhuleni, en route for the Wolmerton depot of the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) north of Pretoria.
Gibela CEO Thierry Darthout said the train took 14 months to complete, with production beginning in September 2017.
“This train has been built while finishing construction of one of the largest manufacturing plants in the world; furnishing the car body shell workshop with 19 state-of-the-art process innovations and commissioning high-tech equipment. Coordinating multiple processes and reaching these major milestones at the same time is an achievement in itself
We are hugely indebted to our majority shareholder, Alstom, for the invaluable support they have given us in the transfer of technology programme that enabled today’s feat and also for their continued support of our operational endeavours,” says Darthout.
About 800 full-time Gibela employees are involved in various phases of the manufacturing process and around 100 local suppliers in the provision of various components and services. These numbers are set to rise as train production ramps up in the months ahead.
Currently, there are two trains undergoing testing and commissioning, with 16 cars in the fitting workshop and 23 in the car body shell workshop.
At full production, the Gibela plant will turn out 62 trains a year and 580 trains over the next 10 years. This will amount to the fastest train production rate in the world.