Gautrain looks at procuring pre-owned trains from the UK

Publication source: Creamer Media’s Engineering News

The Gautrain Management Agency (GMA) is investigating the procurement of pre-owned rolling stock from the UK to address peak-hour congestion on the Gautrain system.

This follows as a tender process to secure 12 new four-car train sets for the Gautrain failed to deliver the desired results at the end of 2018, when none of the three short-listed bidders produced a compliant bid.

GMA CEO Jack van der Merwe says the UK railway system was privatised in the 1990s, creating three separate entities to manage rolling stock, operations and the track.

Owing to circumstances within the UK rail industry, the rolling stock operating companies (Roscos) have a number of trains available that are around four years old.

Van der Merwe says the GMA is looking to add trains to the Gautrain system that are roughly the same age as the current rolling stock fleet.

The UK is also the perfect place to shop for pre-owned rolling stock, as the Gautrain shares its loading gauge with the trains in the UK.

The loading gauge defines the maximum height and width for railway vehicles and their loads to ensure safe passage through bridges, tunnels and other structures.

“The profiles of our trains are similar to those in the UK and not in Europe. Rolling stock from Europe may not travel with ease in our tunnels, for example,” says Van der Merwe.

The GMA has identified three UK Roscos that may be able to supply the desired rolling stock, he adds. These companies will be invited to submit a bid in a closed tender.

The rolling stock may be leased, or purchased.

The GMA will look at obtaining 30 wagons. These would operate largely on the Gautrain’s airport line, with the airport line’s rolling stock then moved over to the congested north-south line.

The GMA is still in the process of securing the necessary approvals from government to move the process forward, says Van der Merwe.

This approval involves issues such as demands on local content.

The GMA hopes to refurbish and kit out the trains locally, using local labour and material, says Van der Merwe.

The pre-owned trains will look different from the current Gautrain rolling stock in terms of shape, but will wear the same colours, he adds.

“We hope to have the trains on the track by 2022.”

Acquiring pre-owned rolling stock as opposed to buying new rolling stock, as per the original tender, should see the price tag drop from around R4.5-billion to R2-billion, keeping in mind, however, that the number of wagons acquired is also declining from 48 to 30.

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