Saldanha ore line to receive another 32 locomotives
South Africa’s freight logistics group Transnet Freight Rail (TFR) on Wednesday announced that it had placed an order for 32 new 15E locomotives for its iron-ore line between Sishen and Saldanha, in line with a target to boost capacity to 61-million tons a year on the 860-km line.
Transnet newly appointed CEO Brian Molefe said service levels were expected to improve significantly as TFR progressively implemented its fleet renewal strategy.
To date, TFR has already admitted 28, 15, locomotives to the iron-ore line and 40, 19E locomotives for the coal line between Ermelo and Richards Bay.
The State-owned enterprise placed the latest $230-million order with Venus Railway Solutions, the local black empowered subsidiary of Japanese company Mitsui.
The contract would have a minimum of 50% local content. The locomotives would be built at Murray & Roberts subsidiary Union Carriage & Wagon in Nigel, with some components supplied by other local entities.
Production of the 32 locomotives would start in December, with the first unit ready for delivery by May 2012 and the last rolling out of the factory floor by August 2013.
“We are thrilled at being able to leverage on the localisation of our capital investment programme, to protect, develop and create local employment opportunities and transfer technology into South Africa,” said Molefe.
He noted that Transnet’s efforts to localise its capital investment programme was in line with the government’s New Growth Path, while the company also participated in the government-inspired Competitive Supplier Development Programme (CSDP).
In addition to the local manufacture of the locomotives, the CSDP aspects of the agreement with Mitsui, include investigating the possibility of South African suppliers joining Mitsui’s global supply chain, stringent skills transfer and development targets.
The targets include training of engineers, students, apprentices and operating a welding school to produce nearly 700 welders, with the majority of beneficiaries being historically disadvantaged.
On April 2, a welding school would be opened at UCW’s premises as part of their CSDP initiative. UCW MD Gary Steinmetz said that the company was excited to provide the design and manufacturing support to the Passenger Rail Revitalisation Plans that underpin South Africa’s infrastructure investment needs.
TFR accounted for roughly half of the larger Transnet group’s R110-billion spending programme over the next five years to expand capacity and improve on infrastructure. This is in addition to the R73-billion that it had already been spent over the last five years.
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