South Africa gets new GE locomotives

19 January 2011

State logistics company Transnet is expected to take delivery of the first of 100 new General Electric diesel locomotives this week, making the company the first to introduce the more powerful and fuel-efficient model to sub-Saharan Africa.

According to Business Day, the locomotives were shipped from the Port of Norfolk in Virginia, USA last month and form part of a R2.4-billion order that was placed with GE South African Technologies (GESAT) – GE’s local subsidiary – in December 2009.

“Transnet are desperately short of locomotives and the delivery of the locos is most welcome,” Allen Jorgensen, a rail expert and research officer at the Railroad Association of SA, told Business Day this week. “These state-of-the-art locomotives will allow Transnet to de-electrify their lines where there has been insufficient supply of electricity in the past.”

According to General Electric (GE), 10 of the locomotives will be manufactured in Erie and Grove City in the US, while the remaining 90 will be manufactured locally by Transnet Rail Engineering using kits supplied by GE Transportation.

“We are pleased that GE is helping drive South Africa towards a lead manufacturing economy by localising the production of locomotives in South Africa,” GE Transportation CEO Lorenzo Simonelli said when the contract was awarded. “We look forward to sharing some of our global success with Transnet and thus jointly expanding our regional footprint.”

Hauling freight and coal

GE’s model C30ACi, the first AC diesel electric locomotive to be introduced to sub-Saharan Africa, will have an engine that delivers 3 300 gross horsepower using an electronic fuel-injection system that automatically supplies the exact amount of fuel needed for optimal engine efficiency.

“The locomotives will also feature GE’s unique AC propulsion technology and dynamic braking,” General Electric said during the signing of the agreement. “The addition of these new locomotives, which will be used to haul freight and coal, will decrease life-cycle costs, improve fuel efficiency and reduce emissions.”

GESAT was created in December 2008 from a black economic empowerment transaction involving GE Transportation and the Mineworkers Investment Company, allowing the company to participate more actively in the transformation of South Africa’s rail industry.

SAinfo reporter

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