Gibela - a joint venture led by Alstom - successfully obtained the Provisional Acceptance Certificate from PRASA - the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa which holds responsibility for rail transport in metropolitan areas - for the first X’Trapolis Mega train. This paves the way for PRASA to commence a test service, with no passengers, as required by the South African Rail Safety Regulator. In line with this test service, the train is scheduled to run between Pienaarspoort and Rissik Street in Hatfield from 1 December 2016 to 16 January 2017. The test will be completed with passengers on-board from 17 January 2017 to 28 February 2017. The commercial service will start shortly after, offering passengers the opportunity to experience PRASA’s new world-class service.
“We are pleased to achieve this important milestone. Gibela and PRASA are well on track to deliver a successful modern passenger rail service to South African commuters” said Marc Granger, CEO of Gibela. In 2014, Gibela was awarded a contract by PRASA to manufacture and replace South Africa's outdated trains and deliver 600 passenger trains into the South African rail network over the next 10 years. This project also involves the construction of a manufacturing facility in South Africa.
The Gibela 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, 50km east of Johannesburg. The 20 first trains are being produced at Alstom’s factory of Lapa in Brazil and, as of today, 14 of them have been delivered.
Gibela’s contract with PRASA encompasses more than just a train replacement programme – it is to be a catalyst for transformation in South Africa and includes stringent economic development commitments. Training and development are fundamental to these commitments as Gibela works to build and enhance rail technology skills amongst employees, suppliers and South African students. To date, close to 300 people have received training including specialised train engineering and manufacturing expertise from Alstom’s worldwide centres of excellence.
For each train that has already been built in Brazil, 22% of procurement spent is on components sourced from South African suppliers. At full production locally, Gibela anticipates that a panel comprising 200 local suppliers will 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 Alstom, and Gibela, 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.
Alstom, through Gibela, is committed to local socio-economic development and has already launched several programmes and initiatives which demonstrate support of the South African Government’s National Development Plan.
 61% for Alstom, 30% for Ubumbano Rail, 9% for New Africa Rail (NAR), the Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) partners selected by PRASA
 Brand name given to Alstom’s suburban trains