Transnet Freight Rail has scaled up on its delivery capabilities in collaboration with Chinese South Rail Zhuzhou (CSR).
President Jacob Zuma yesterday unveiled locomotive number 95, produced at Transnet’s manufacturing facility in Koedoespoort, Pretoria. The agreement for South Africa to produce 85 of the locomotives pumped R1.7 billion into local supplier development and created 260 direct jobs.
Transnet indicated that skill and technology transfer between the two companies exceeded initial targets.
Speaking at the event Zuma said he was impressed by the expertise of young people in management positions.
“This project marks the success of Transnet’s first venture in the production of electric locomotives. I commend Transnet for the transition to a low-carbon freight system through introducing these locomotives that are energy efficient,” he said.
Zuma said that local assembly of the locomotives would contribute to the development of industries by stimulating local commerce, strengthening industrial cycles and increasing the manufacturing capacity of the rail industry.
The project forms part of Transnet’s long term-fleet renewal programme, aimed at reducing the average age of its trains and reinforcing its plan to increase freight volumes on rail from 210 million tons to 350 million tons over the next seven years.
The president said the completion of the 95 locomotives set a great platform for Transnet to deliver on the ambitious acquisition of a further 1064 locomotives, a plan announced last year. International suppliers for the acquisition include General Electric, Bombardier and CSR.
The trains will transport manganese, iron ore and chrome to Port Elizabeth from surrounding mines. Two locomotives have been allocated to the Blue Train but most will be used to transport general freight said Transnet chief executive Siyabonga Gama.
The locomotives have reduced cycle times to Port Elizabeth by 14 hours and energy consumption by 25%. The trains can regenerate electricity back into the grid, or power trains in the same area.
The project has been beneficial to China and CSR President Zhou Qinghe said the project plays a meaningful role in the company’s internationalisation process.
“We appreciate the recognition of the our locomotive technology to be used in South Africa,” said Qinghe, adding that the project would serve as a foothold in expanding into other parts of the continent.
Zuma, as well as Public Enterprises minister Lynne Brown and City of Tshwane mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa were given a tour of the factory production line. Excited factory workers, who’s welding could wait for a few minutes, followed and cheered the group through the warehouse.