South Africa builds locomotives from kits

GE Transportation has begun shipping freight locomotives to South Africa in kit form for local assembly. The new models will be more powerful and more efficient than those currently in use.

GE's contract with Transnet Ltd calls for the supply of 100 locomotives to Transnet Freight Rail. Ten will be manufactured in the USA and the remainder put together in South Africa.

Transnet Rail Engineering staff have already begun work on the first four kits, delivered from GE's US locomotive plant in Erie and engine plant in Grove City at the same time as two Erie-built units.

The Model C30ACi is the first AC diesel-electric locomotive to be introduced to sub-Saharan Africa and the first locomotive in the region to meet stringent UIC2 emissions standards. Its engine delivers 3,300 gross horse power (2.4MW) using an electronic fuel injection system that automatically supplies the exact amount of fuel needed for optimal engine efficiency.

A customer can deploy three C30ACi models to haul a load that would require four of the older locomotives typically used for freight in South Africa, reducing annual diesel fuel consumption by approximately 600,000 litres under typical operating conditions and cutting CO2 emissions by 1,500 tonnes.

GE South African Technologies (GESAT) and Transnet recently celebrated the introduction of the first US-built locomotives at a trackside ceremony near Pretoria.

"These locomotives herald great opportunities for Transnet and South Africa as well as GE," said Lorenzo Simonelli, president and CEO of GE Transportation. "Transnet will be able to significantly improve hauling capability while reducing fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. Our partnership also is a significant investment in job development, economic advancement and infrastructure growth on both sides of the Atlantic."

"We are pleased to partner with GE as we improve our operational efficiencies and contributing to economic growth in South Africa," said Mafika Mkwanazi, chairman of Transnet Limited. "GE and Transnet will work hand in hand to build manufacturing capacity and expertise for a better tomorrow in South Africa."

South Africa already has some experience of building modern rolling stock from kits. Many of the Gautrain vehicles on the Johannesburg Airport passenger service were supplied in 'flatpack' form from Bombardier's Derby plant in Britain and assembled locally.

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