SPANISH LOCOS SHORT ENOUGH
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.
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
FIRM: Prasa group CEO Lucky Montana