PRASA: Alstom railcars, Wabtec brakes

Written by William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief
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Wabtec Corp. has begun deliveries of brake system equipment to Alstom, which is building up to 3,600 commuter railcars for the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA).

Wabtec’s contract involves supply of brake controls, truck brakes and air generation equipment for 10 six-car trainsets. Wabtec expects the contract to generate revenues of at least $160 million over 10 years.

PRASA’s railcar procurement is part of a program to modernize and expand its commuter rail system in response to increasing ridership. Each single-level six-car trainset will have the capacity to carry more than 1,200 passengers and operate at speeds up to 75 mph initially, with future potential 100 mph.

Wabtec and other suppliers will expand operations in South Africa significantly to meet local-content requirements. Wabtec says it plans to increase its local employment to support the project and to use procurement initiatives designed to meet the South African government’s BEE (Black Economic Empowerment) policies. Wabtec says it “also expects to work with training institutes to develop skilled technical workers and engineering technicians for the rail sector.”

Gibela Rail Transport Consortium (GRTC), a South African joint venture led by Alstom (Alstom, 61%; Ubumbano Rail, 30%; New Africa Rail, 9%), is executing the contract. GRTC will establish a manufacturing, training and engineering site in Dunnottar, South Africa. The consortium expects the PRASA project to create more than 1,500 direct manufacturing jobs and more than 8,000 indirect jobs through the supply chain over its life.

“This project expands our global product capabilities and footprint, provides aftermarket opportunities and solidifies our presence in South Africa, where we are committed to growth,” said Wabtec President and CEO Raymond T. Betler. “We’re also pleased to be working on this project with Alstom, a world leader in the supply of systems, equipment and services in the railway sector. As other countries around the world invest in their transportation systems, Wabtec expects to continue to play an important role.”

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