train-1Rail company Gibela was recently awarded a provisional acceptance certificate from the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) to begin its trial run for the first X’Trapolis Mega train 1.

This trial run will happen in preparation for a commercial rail service in 2017.

Gibela CEO Marc Granger said this was a “major milestone for Gibela” and PRASA. He described it as “the moment we have been preparing for since signing the contract in 2014”.

Granger said that the train was “the first of 600 to be delivered by Gibela to PRASA over the next 10 years and represents years of work by designers, engineers, and project and logistics specialists, among others”.

The first phase of PRASA’s trial run is being undertaken with no passengers on board – as required by the South African Rail Safety Regulator. The train is scheduled to run between Pienaarspoort Station, Mamelodi and Rissik Street Station, Hatfield from 1 December 2016 to 16 January 2017.

From 18 January 2017 to 28 February 2017 the second phase of the trial run will give passengers an opportunity to travel on the new train between Koedoespoort Station and Rissik Street Station. The new train is expected to enter full commercial service soon afterwards.

Gibela’s manufacturing plant

Gibela’s manufacturing plant, where 580 trains (3 480 coaches) will be produced, is currently under construction. It is expected to be completed by the end of 2017. The facility is located at Dunnottar, Ekurhuleni, 50 km east of Johannesburg.

The 20 first trains are being produced at the Lapa, Brazil factory of Gibela’s major shareholder, Alstom. To date, 14 trains have been delivered from Brazil to South Africa.

Local suppliers benefit

At full production locally, Gibela said it anticipated that a panel comprising 200 local suppliers would be manufacturing equipment and components for the 580 locally produced trains from 2018 onwards.

Local suppliers have benefitted from the technical advice and assistance from Gibela’s majority shareholder Alstom, to ensure they become part of a sustainable South African supplier base. They have also benefitted from manufacturing know-how and design engineering from Alstom.


“Gibela’s project with PRASA encompasses more than just a train replacement programme,” PRASA said, “It is to be a catalyst for transformation in South Africa and includes stringent economic development commitments.”

It added that training and development were fundamental to these commitments as Gibela had “worked to build and enhance rail technology skills amongst its employees, suppliers and the broader South African public”.

The company also said that to date, close to 300 South Africans had received training in various aspects of train manufacturing at Alstom’s worldwide centres of excellence, in preparation for the start of train manufacturing in South Africa.