First bodyshell ready for new South African EMUs

Alstom’s Lapa manufacturing plant in Brazil has manufactured the first complete body-shell of the twenty X’Trapolis Mega commuter trains currently under production in the site as part of its 600 trains contract with Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA).

Seven months after the financial close of the €4 billion contract between Alstom and PRASA, the project is well under way, with the manufacturing proceeding smoothly with the Gibela consortium, the local joint venture created to execute the PRASA contract.


The consortium, in which Alstom has a 61% stake, also comprises New Africa Rail (9%) and Ubumbano Rail (30%). Ubumbano is the hosting entity in the National Empowerment Fund for the Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment partners, which was a critical element in the contract which was awarded in December 2013 and is South Africa’s largest-ever rolling stock order.

The first 20 trains are being built in the Alstom plant in Lapa, Brazil to assure necessary skills training to the South African teams, ahead of the opening of a purpose-built local manufacturing facility in Dunnottar. South-African commodity suppliers have been involved in the manufacturing of this first body-shell.

This first stainless steel body-shell is now ready to start the fitting phase, after which, by the end of 2015, the first complete PRASA train will be shipped to South Africa for an intensive testing program, before it can enter into revenue service by June 2016.


Gibela now employs 78 people and 16 South African railway engineers are almost halfway through an 18 months training programme on the trains design and technologies at several Alstom plants in Europe.

Alstom is supplying PRASA with its X’Trapolis Mega, the new X’Trapolis train developed by Alstom to fit South Africa’s 1.067 m gauge. Several Alstom plants are involved in the PRASA project, among them Sesto (Italy) for the traction motors, Le Creusot (France) for the bogies, Reischoffen (France) for the driver cabin, but also the French sites of Ornans, Tarbes, Villeurbanne and Saint-Ouen.