Posted on Nov 21, 2008 in Media Releases
Isithimela Rail Services (Pty) Ltd, the company subcontracted by Bombardier Transportation UK Limited to be responsible for track laying on the Gautrain Project, officially launched its trading name and company today at the new Gautrain depot in Midrand.
Isithimela Rail Services (Isithimela) was forged out of a partnership between transport company, Bombardier Transportation UK Limited and local BEE company, Strategic Partners Group (SPG), both holding a 50% shareholding in Isithimela. Under this partnership, Isithimela has been subcontracted to execute the trackworks aspects of the Gautrain project for a contract value estimated at approximately R800m. There is also an intention that the company is to undertake the track maintenance on the Gautrain during the 15-year concession operational period.
Isithimela will be the first company to lay 1435mm or “standard gauge” track – which is typically used for international high speed rail tracks – in sub Saharan Africa. The standard gauge tracks are wider than the usual rail tracks used in South Africa and offer greater balance and safety for a high speed rail service. To date, Isithimela has laid close to 7km of track at the Gautrain depot, while works along Gautrain’s mainline have recently commenced.
Gauteng MEC for Public Transport, Roads and Works Ignatius Jacobs, who was the keynote speaker at the launch event said “Gautrain is testimony of the many lives that have been touched in so many ways. Local technicians have learnt to work with brand new technology while entrepreneurs found new markets for their services”.
Over 230 jobs have been created by Isithimela since its inception, with a vast majority of the workforce being locally employed. In order to build capacity and know-how, Bombardier Transportation UK has seconded specialised expatriate staff and management to Isithimela. Their task is to transfer their expert knowledge, skills and technology to the locally employed staff complement who are intended to manage the company into the future.
Mr David Moshapalo, Chairman of Isithimela Rail Services said that “At the time when infrastructure development and public transport improvement is on the forefront of South Africa’s economic growth agenda, Isithimela’s objective is to build capacity to enable it to execute the trackwork subcontract on the Gautrain and to optimally position it for further business opportunities outside the Gautrain Project. Our goal is to furthermore tender for other trackwork contracts on the African continent.”
During the Gautrain development period, Isithimela will focus on various scopes of work that will include amongst others, the installation of ballasted and ballastless track, supply of materials for the installation works and the provision of plant and equipment to execute the trackworks.
Two specialised track laying equipment were unveiled and renamed by MEC Jacobs at the event – the Plasser Switch & Crossing Tamper 08/275 3S (renamed ”Isithimela I”) and the Plasser Plain Line Tamper 09/32 CSM (renamed “Isithimela II”). Both machines are being used on the project to set the track horizontally and vertically and to compact the ballast beneath and around the concrete sleepers.
Approximately 180 kms of rail will be laid by Isithimela for the 80 km Gautrain alignment connecting Johannesburg, Pretoria and the OR Tambo International Airport.
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