Alstom in South Africa 

Alstom in South Africa

A century of development

Alstom has been present in South Africa for more than a century. During these years the company provided a wide range of products and technologies which helped develop the country’s infrastructure. Alstom provided equipment for 12 of South Africa’s 13 coal-fired power plants and for the only nuclear power plant, but it also played a historical role in supplying technologies for passenger trains and locomotives, many of which are still in use.

Today Alstom is focused entirely on transport activities and is committed to being part of the revitalization of the rail and transport sector through its South African Join Venture companies, Gibela and Alstom Ubunye.

Key data on the PRASA project awarded to Gibela: 

  • 600 Alstom X’Trapolis Mega passenger trains (3,600 coaches) ordered
  • 65% of components sourced locally
  • 19 years of maintenance, technical support and spare parts to be provided for the coaches
  • 1bn rand: Gibela investment in the local manufacturing & training facility
  • 1,500 direct jobs created in the new Dunottar factory  
  • 19,000 people to be trained by Gibela over 10 years


Alstom Ubunye: In April 2016 Alstom acquired a 51% share in South African rail company CTLE (Commuter Transport & Locomotive Engineering) and renamed the company: Alstom Ubunye (An IsiZulu word meaning “Unity"). 

Key data: 

  • African rail company formed in April 2016, with a history going back to 1957
  • Located in Nigel, Ekurhuleni  (East of Johannesburg)
  • 500 employees
  • Fully compliant with Black Economic Empowerment principles. 
  • 80,000m2 manufacturing facility 

Managing Director’s Message

Alstom has a long legacy of technological excellence and a commitment to local economic and social progress in South Africa. 

We are an active and valuable participant in South Africa’s endeavours in creating employment and developing skills. Localization is a business imperative and a key driver of our global strategy. We strive to develop long-term relationships with local companies, supporting them with training in our design, standards and specifications.

Alstom is present in over 60 countries throughout the world and has an unrivalled technical expertise in all domains of railway transport. Today we can leverage global expertise in localization, job creation and enrichment of the local supply chain. And we can deliver projects safely and efficiently.

Alstom has developed a full range of innovative and competitive products and services that can provide a leading edge response to the challenges of urban transport. 

We are proud to bring all of this to South Africa and to be a part of the development of South Africa’s sustainable rail transportation.

Yvan Eriau 
Managing Director for Alstom Southern Africa & CEO of Alstom Ubunye

December 5th 2013

Contract awarded by Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) to the Alstom-led joint-venture Gibela – to supply 600 X’Trapolis Mega passenger trains (3,600 coaches) over 10 years. It also includes the construction of a local manufacturing facility, technical support and spares supply over an 18-year period.

July 30th 2014

Gibela, the South African rail transport company in which Alstom has a 61% holding, officially presented in Johannesburg.

December 19th 2014

Alstom Shareholders Meeting authorises the sale of Alstom Energy businesses to General Electric.

November 2nd  2015

Alstom finalises the sales of its energy activities and is entirely focused on Transport.

November 2015

Alstom purchase agreement for 51% share in SA rail company Commuter Transport & Locomotive Engineering (CTLE), previously Union Carriage and Wagon (UCW).

April 2016

Alstom completes the acquisition of 51% share in South African rail company CTLE (Commuter Transport & Locomotive Engineering), specialized in the modernisation of trains, from CTE (Commuter Transport Engineering) and IDC (Industrial Development Corporation) which remain shareholders. The company will henceforth be known as Alstom Ubunye (Ubunye is a Zulu word for Unity).

April 2016

Alstom completes the acquisition of 51% share in South African rail company CTLE (Commuter Transport & Locomotive Engineering), specialized in the modernisation of trains, from CTE[1] and IDC[2] which remain shareholders[3]

The company will henceforth be known as Alstom Ubunye. (Ubunye is a Zulu word for Unity)

[1] Commuter Transport Engineering

[2] Industrial Development Corporation

[3] An employee benefit scheme will also be created

Alstom South Africa previously consisted of two major divisions: Alstom Power (acquired by GE South Africa in November 2015) and Alstom Transport.

During its 100 years history in South Africa, the company has built capacity in the country.  Alstom Southern Africa – now focused on Transport only- continues to strengthen its commitments to South Africa through its local joint-ventures Gibela and Alstom Ubunye. Alstom’s commitment to diversity, education and sustainable development has already resulted in several new initiatives:

  • Alstom Ubunye on site welding school for learners from the community
  • Alstom Foundation project in Duduza (establishment of a technical high school) (in progress)
  • Bursaries for children of employees of Gibela and Ubunye
  • Mandela Day initiatives
  • Gibela Maths & Science programmes at local schools 
  • Gibela Early Childhood intervention programmes
  • Diversity in the workplace

Alstom Ubunye on site welding school

Alstom Ubunye recently reopened its on-site welding school for learners from the community. 

The current 12 month programme consists of ten Learners of which four are female. The R600 000 investment is part of the company’s social responsibility programme but also addresses the future need for skilled artisans for Alstom Ubunye and Gibela. Welding skills are used in the refurbishment and manufacturing of trains and is considered to be a scarce skill in South Africa. 

Alstom Ubunye welding school

HRD Manager Motlalepula Matjila, (right) with Gibela learners.

Alstom Ubunye welding schoolAlstom Ubunye welding school


















Welding skills are used in the refurbishment of train coaches. 


AAlstom has long been a technology supplier to South African railways, providing locomotives and passenger trains which are still in use today. 

Companies subsequently acquired by Alstom have delivered to South Africa:

  • Class 19D steam-locomotives.
  • Class 1E electric locomotives, ordered in 1925, at the time the largest single type locomotive order placed anywhere in the world.
  • The first EMU (Class 1 M) trains.
  • Class 2M EMU trains.
  • Traction propulsion and control systems and general overhaul.

In 2013 PRASA (the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa) awarded a contract to Gibela – an Alstom-led joint-venture – to supply 600 passenger trains. The project also includes the creation of a new site at Dunnottar (Ekurhuleni), where Gibela’s South African employees will be trained and will produce the trains. Gibela will thereby contribute to regenerating the country’s rail industry with an objective of 65% local content.

Alstom is dedicated to ensuring that the country develops in ways that protect the environment and promote economic growth and social progress.