SPAN­ISH LO­COS SHORT ENOUGH

Sowetan - - BUSINESS NEWS - Fhu­mu­lani Khumela khume­laj@sowe­tan.co.za

THE Pas­sen­ger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) has re­jected re­ports that its new batch of lo­co­mo­tives do not meet SA stan­dards.

The agency told the media at its Pre­to­ria head of­fice yesterday that they could start op­er­at­ing with the new lo­co­mo­tives by the end of Au­gust.

Chief ex­ec­u­tive Lucky Mon­tana said the 13 new diesel trains bought for R600-mil­lion as part of an or­der for 70 lo­cos for R3.5-bil­lion from Span­ish man­u­fac­turer Voss­loh Es­paa, were un­der­go­ing safety tests.

He said the trains were be­ing tested and had been granted a test­ing and com­mis­sion per- mit by the Rail­way Safety Reg­u­lar. He said it would be only af­ter the trains had run 3 000km with­out any glitches that they would be granted a per­ma­nent safety cer­ti­fi­ca­tion.

On Sun­day, Rap­port re­ported that the new lo­co­mo­tives ex­ceeded the height re­stric­tions for lo­cal tracks. It said the trains had a roof height of 4 264mm (or 4.264m) while the max­i­mum height for diesel lo­co­mo­tives in South Africa may not ex­ceed 3 965mm, quot­ing a leaked re­port from se­nior rail engi­neers.

But Mon­tana yesterday said the height of the Span­ish-made trains was in fact 4 100mm. The re­quired dis­tance be­tween train and over­head ca­bles for elec­tri­cal wires is 4.5m. This means the new trains’ height of 4.1m puts them well within the safe dis­tance of over­head ca­bles.

“The lo­co­mo­tives are be­ing tested with suc­cess in both the Prasa and Transnet net­work to ful­fil the 3 000 fault-free kilo­me­tres. The new lo­co­mo­tives have been run­ning in Eastern Cape, Bloem­fontein, Mafikeng, Kim­ber­ley and be­tween Cape Town and Johannesburg, ” he read from a state­ment.

“No tech­ni­cal flaws or safety is­sues have arisen, re­sult­ing from these tests. Fur­ther, long dis­tance and re­gional ser­vices routes will be tested.”

A video pre­sen­ta­tion was shown to the media of the trains pass­ing un­der bridges and trav­el­ling on var­i­ous routes.

Prasa’s head of en­gi­neer­ing ser­vices, Dr Daniel Mtimkulu, said the or­gan­i­sa­tion had com­mis­sioned a re­port on safety re­quire­ments that was com­piled in co­op­er­a­tion with the Univer­sity of Stel­len­bosch.

The new trains, nick­named the Afro 4000 – de­signed by Mtimkulu and his team – form part of Prasa’s rail turn­around strat­egy.

The new fleet is an up­grade from the old one.

Mon­tana said that if test­ing went as sched­uled some of the new trains should be op­er­at­ing by end of Au­gust.

PHOTO: MARK AN­DREWS

READY TO RUN: One of the new diesel lo­co­mo­tives which will pull new com­muter trains Prasa says will be ready to op­er­ate as soon as next month. This one was cap­tured at the East Lon­don train sta­tion

PHOTO: PUXLEY MAK­GATHO

FIRM: Prasa group CEO Lucky Mon­tana

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