Media releases

The beating heart of Gibela

12 team players on track

Gibela1, the South African rail company being officially launched today at a series of functions in Johannesburg, will train and upskill thousands of local people in various rail industry skills as part of the government's broader vision to revitalise the country's once proud local industry.

Product engineering is integral to any rail project and, as Gibela delivers each of the 600 cutting-edge commuter trains to PRASA, the rolling stock will first have to be designed, validated, manufactured and later maintained and serviced.

Gibela is already developing its local engineering department in preparation for the work ahead. In addition to validation of the trains, the engineering team will also be involved in making the design changes and manufacturing improvements that are required. These include a number of variants including fitting out some trains for 'business express' services, while others will have onboard toilets and others will be adapted for operation on 25kV lines.

As skills development and training is central to the Gibela strategy, an initial group of 12 experienced engineers has begun training in Alstom sites in France to equip them with the specialised technical skills needed so Gibela can deliver on the contract. The18-month development programme will impart knowledge of train design disciplines; create a comprehensive understanding of the main train functions and how they are composed in Alstom trains; facilitate the study of detailed design solutions adopted for the X'Trapolis MEGA and transfer know-how to enable the engineers to become design authorities in their own right.

Currently based in Paris, these engineers will later receive more hands-on learning and experience at different Alstom sites in France, Italy, Belgium, Spain and Brazil, according to their specialities and the nature of the work performed at the various train development sites.

South African artisans and engineers will also work with experienced teams in Brazil where the first 20 trains will be manufactured using a significant percentage of South African content. This is part of the skills transfer that is necessary for the local build of the remaining 580 trains.

Kasturie Pillay, one of the female engineers in France and a senior computer-aided design engineer at Gibela said she and her colleagues were proud to be involved in rewriting South Africa's rail history. "There is no doubt that this project will have its challenges," she said. "But our group has a certain energy and we are all motivated and eager to get to work once we have completed the training."

Pillay and her colleagues understand they have a responsibility to transfer the knowledge gained abroad to their colleagues back at home. "It will take time and patience," she said. "But we will get there because we believe in the Gibela journey. This is a project of national importance that will touch the lives of millions of South Africans. We are privileged to be part of the journey from the outset."

Mike Scrooby, Product Director, said that there were all sorts of benefits to sending employees to Europe for training. "We believe that by involving our engineers in the development and testing of the new trains now, and with experienced teams, they will be well-equipped to develop future models or variants themselves in years to come," he said.

1 Gibela is a joint venture led by Alstom and owned by a suite of local shareholders made up of Ubumbano Rail and New Africa Rail.

Photographs available on the Gibela website from noon in the Media section.

For more information please contact:
On behalf of Gibela:
Pamella Radebe +27 83 277 8766 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Office tel: +27 11 518 8232  
Russell and Associates:
James Duncan +27 79 336 4010 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Leigh King +27 83 418 8973 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Pam McLeod +27 82 872 6387 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Office tel: +27 11 880 3924  

GIBELA 2014. All rights reserved. Information contained in this document is indicative only. No representation or warranty is given or should be relied on that it is complete or correct or will apply to any particular project. This will depend on the technical and commercial circumstances. It is provided without liability and is subject to change without notice. Reproduction, use or disclosure to third parties, without express written authority, is strictly prohibited.

About Gibela

Gibela is a South African rail company born out of a consortium that was awarded PRASA's 10-year rolling stock programme to design, manufacture and deliver 600 passenger trains. The company will establish a state-of-the art manufacturing facility in Ekurhuleni, Gauteng; localise the manufacture of components for the new fleet and create jobs on a sizeable scale. In tandem with managing local content of more than 65%; Gibela will facilitate the development of local rail-sector relevant skills and the transfer of technical know-how. As Gibela's majority shareholder and major supplier, Alstom will play a significant role in the transfer of historical technological expertise in suburban rail transport which includes the robust design-proven X'Trapolis family and it's X'Trapolis Mega (MEtric GAuge) − a safe, reliable and comfortable train, specifically designed for South Africa.