Workers have broken ground on a factory under construction near Johannesburg that will provide jobs for 1,500 people and produce the first locomotive train ever manufactured in South Africa.
French company Alstom has started building the factory that is expected to supply South Africa with 580 trains and technical services for 19 years through a joint venture with South African rail company Gibela.
The factory in Dunnotar will build and test 580 of 600 new suburban trains being built for the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa as part of a major fleet renewal, GlobalRailNews reported.
The other 20 trains are being built by Alstom’s factory in Lapa, Brazil. Two of those trains have already been delivered to South Africa and a third is scheduled to arrive later in March.
This project is one of the biggest in rail transport worldwide, Alstom said in 2014, according to TotalRail.
Alstom owns a majority stake in Gibela and has a 4 billion euro contract ($4.4 billion US) with the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa, Bloomberg reported.
The 60,000-square-meter factory in South Africa (645,835 square feet) is expected to take 18 months to complete with equipment and train development at a cost of $165 million.
“This new factory will be a catalyst for the revitalization of the rail industry in South Africa through local manufacturing, high local supply level, employment creation and skills development,” said Alstom CEO Henri Poupart-Lafarge in a statement. “Alstom is proud to be involved in this new era of rail in the country.”
The $4.4 billion order includes 3,600 carriages to be delivered over the next decade for the 600 new X’Trapolis Mega trains, GlobalRailNews reported.
Alstom has been doing business in South Africa for years, NewsWire reported. The contract, awarded in October 2013, is the largest in the company’s history.