17 October 2008
Featuring a modern white carriage, and with gold and blue stripes above the windows, side panels, floors and doors, the first locally manufactured rail car for the Gautrain rapid rail link rolled off the assembly line in Nigel, east of Johannesburg this week.
Gauteng transport minister Ignatius Jacobs took a tour of the assembly plant, situated on Gauteng’s East Rand, saying that he wanted to bear witness to the changing face of public transport in the province.
Jacobs said the project also meant the imparting of advanced skills in the transport sector, involving world-renowned rail manufacturers, to which South Africans previously had no access.
The Gautrain will consist of 96 rail cars, of which 15 are being manufactured at Bombardier Transportation’s world-class facility in Derby, UK.
The remaining 81 rail cars are being assembled at the Union Carriage and Wagon (UCW) Partnership workshop in terms of the Gautrain’s socio-economic goals to develop local skills, create jobs and stimulate economic growth.
UCW Managing Director Palello Lebaka said the assembly process involved the preparation of the floor and under-frame, followed by the build-up of the car until four cars were completed.
He said when linked together, the four cars form a single train, adding that upon completion each individual car woudl undergo extensive static testing to ensure that all systems were operating satisfactorily.
“The cars will then be joined into four-car units and again statically tested,” he said. “Once all systems are proven, the four-car trains then will begin dynamic quality and safety testing at the Gautrain depot near Midrand.”
Lebaka said these include 3 000 kilometres completed on the test track at the depot to accumulate significant fault-free miles running before eventually being accepted for service.
It is expected that the first cars will begin testing at the Gautrain depot in Midrand in the first quarter of next year.