South Africa plans to build 600 commuter trains by 2027
The South African government plans to spend almost $60 billion (Ksh. 6.2 trillion) within the next ten years on rail infrastructure.
According to a CNN report, French-South African company known as Gibela won the contract to build 600 modern commuter trains.
“The rail industry in South Africa is challenged,” said Hector Danisa, CEO of Gibela.
The announcement of the train project comes hot on heels of a social media campaign under the hashtag #fixourtrains. Currently, the old fleet operates under the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA).
PRASA reported that almost a third of its commuter trains were delayed in 2017 and 2018.
13% of scheduled trains were canceled but despite the problems, there were 269 million paying passenger trips within that period.
“The passenger rail in Africa is in a dire situation. It’s in crisis,” said Zukie Vuka, the organizer of the campaign.
He added: “Trains are overcrowded, trains get canceled all the time, trains get delayed.”
The contract for a new rail system is worth $3.3 billion (Ksh. 342 billion) and will see the company replace part of the aging metro fleet.
South Africa’s 2.3 million rail commuters are expected to double within the next 20 years, according to Gibela.
CNN reported that the company’s new 78-hectare train production facility outside Johannesburg is the biggest in Africa.
Gibela said the trains will be built with 90% recyclable components, as well as 145 tons of locally produced lightweight stainless steel, to reduce fuel consumption.
It also prioritizes South African suppliers as well as employees and is contracted to use 65% local materials.
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