GE and South Africa in Locomotive Milestone

South African locomotive
South African built locomotive

A joint venture between South Africa’s Transnet and US-based General Electric (GE) Transportation has delivered its first locomotive, the most advanced diesel electric locomotive yet built in South Africa and including 37% local content.

The locomotive was unveiled at Transnet Rail Engineering’s facilities in Koedoespoort, Tshwane on Wednesday.

Speaking at the event, GE Transportation CEO Lorenzo Simonelli described the delivery of the locomotive as a big milestone.

“We are celebrating the first South African product delivered by our joint venture company GE South Africa Technologies,” Simonelli said. “These locomotives represent great opportunities for Transnet and South Africa as well as GE.”

In January, Transnet concluded an agreement with GE for a further 33 diesel-electric locomotives, over and above the 100 already being purchased under a deal concluded in 2009.

According to the contract, 10 of the locomotives were to be manufactured in Erie and Grove City, Pennsylvania, USA, while 133 are to be assembled locally at Transnet Rail Engineering’s site in South Africa.

Simonelli noted that the locomotives assembled in South Africa will have 37% local content, overshooting GE’s self-imposed target of 30% local content.

The new locomotives will enable Transnet to significantly improve its hauling capability while reducing fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

A total of 53 will haul freight in the Phalaborwa-Richards Bay corridor, 30 in the Sishen-Saldanha iron-ore corridor, 32 on the Witbank-Nelspruit-Komatipoort line, while the remaining 28 will transport coal to Eskom power stations.

Simonelli said the partnership with Transnet Rail Engineering demonstrated the progress that GE’s transportation business was making in duplicating its global model of localising content in the countries it operated in.

The partnership had also produced a significant investment in job development, economic advancement and infrastructure growth in the country.