The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa said the journey to modernising the country's rail system has earnestly begun.
This, with the arrival of the first test train which will be replacing the old Metrorail train fleet over the next 20 years.
Prasa said Friday that Test Train Number 1, is the very first train built in Brazil out of a planned 600 trains which will be configured in sets of six cars per train and able to transport 1 346 passengers.
The Agency said it began the execution of its R172bn investment in new trains and support infrastructure in the 2013/2014 financial year which will replace the current Metrorail rolling stock and meet future rail demands.
"This government is committed to the transformation of passenger rail infrastructure and in ensuring that rail becomes the backbone of public transport and a mode of choice for the multitudes of our people who depend on affordable, reliable and safe public transportation," said Transport Minister Dipuo Peters.
"This train is the realisation of government's investment on the rolling stock fleet renewal program. Our government is serious about implementing infrastructure and rail transport programmes as spelled out in the National Development Plan (NDP). Transport is one of the key pillars of the NDP," she said.
The chairperson of the PRASA Board, Dr. Popo Molefe, said "the arrival of the first test train signals the start of our journey to modernise passenger rail infrastructure and services."
"We are in the process of building modem rolling stock that will form the backbone of a world class metro service that is safe, reliable, and affordable. This investment by the government demonstrates its commitment towards developing a high quality transport system. PRASA is serious about delivering on its mandate. We aware of the enormous responsibility entrusted upon us and we intend to meet and exceed our customer and stakeholder expectations," he added.
Prasa said a second test train has been planned for delivery within the first quarter of 2016. Each of the two test trains will arrive with various updated fittings in line with the various stages of testing by PRASA and Gibela Engineers.
These tests will facilitate accurate manufacturing of remaining fleet manufactured in Brazil and create a tried and tested methodology for the rest of the trains to be manufactured in South Africa.
"Gibela is quite pleased with the delivery of T1 which was a collaborative effort between ourselves and PRASA. A lot of painstakingly detailed work has gone into the transportation of the T1 from our Brazil manufacturing plant and the successful delivery of the train in South Africa. The final journey to PRASA's Wolmerton Depot will mark the start of a series of tests on the T1, transferring skills and the training of new train drivers as we continue to manufacture the new Metrorail trains" said Marc Granger CEO of Gibela.
The delivery of the T1 is part of PRASA's overall Fleet Renewal Programme which will see the manufacturing of the first 20 modern trains in Brazil; the establishment of the South African factory to manufacture the rest of the trains locally and the promotion of local skills and industry development.
The local manufacturing plant will achieve an average of 67% local content over the delivery period and will increase to 75% local content by year 10 and have approximately an 80% Local employee base by year five of its establishment.