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PRASA unveils 70 new locomotives - 10 allocated for Eastern Cape

DECEMBER 1, 2014
PRASA unveils 70 new locomotives - 10 allocated for Eastern Cape

Mosenngwa Mofi, the CEO of the Passenger Rail Services of South Africa (PRASA), says the unveiling of new locomotives will change the lives of commuters for the better. He said that the new locomotives would be used primarily to serve the long distance market, while 10 of the 70 locomotives would be allocated to the Eastern Cape.

The new-look locomotives, which were unveiled at Cape Town Station on Monday morning, are also tipped to contribute to the rail operator’s plan of modernising the country’s rail infrastructure, including rolling stock, signal upgrade, infrastructure rehabilitation, station modernisation, new locomotives for long distance passenger services and communications systems.

Briefing journalists ahead of the launch, Mofi said the unveiling of the new Afro 4000 locomotive series was an overwhelming occasion.

“A whole lot of us are emotional today because this is a realisation of a dream, a dream that will change the travelling experience of all South Africans,” he said.

The unveiling of the locomotives comes after Swifambo Rail Leasing, a local company that PRASA outsourced the project to, awarded Spanish company Vossloh Group a contract to supply 70 new high-tech locomotives – made up of 50 Euro Dual electro-diesel and 20 Euro 4000 diesel locomotives.

The launch was seen as a step closer to the rail operator addressing concerns of train delays, which have plagued the rail network.

Mofi said commuters always demand better services and that the unveiling was a culmination of a process that seeks to address their concerns.

“The critical factor is to improve the journey experience and encourage more long distance travel. This can only be achieved by providing reliable, efficient locomotives to haul these trains, thus minimising en-route delays,” he said.

The trains would run along six long distance corridors, including the Johannesburg to Cape Town route. As soon as PRASA receives new stock during the first half of the year, these will be increased to 10 corridors.

Mofi said the locomotives would be tested over the next three months, and that the rail operator expected to open their doors to the public around March next year.

The new locomotives have a driver display unit with route management systems and train management systems for the driver to detect and reset any faults while in section.

These are also the first diesel locomotives in the country to have two driving cabs. They can be driven in both directions without turning.

The locomotives are highly powered and are designed for multipurpose use and can pull freight and passenger coaches.

Mofi said PRASA was in the process of acquiring new, modern trains over the next 10 years after signing a R51 billion-contract with the Gibela Rail Consortium.

Once the project, part of PRASA’s turnaround strategy, is completely rolled-out, Mofi said more locomotives would then be allocated to major cities where they are expected to make people feel comfortable and safer in trains, a move  that will contribute to easing traffic congestion. – SAnews.gov.za

Photo caption: PRASA's new Euro 4000 diesel locomotives look like the one above. Image: www.railcolor.net