SA railway operator awards Siemens huge signalling deal

By Bizclik Editor

The South African railway company, PRASA (Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa), has commissioned Siemens with the delivery of signalling equipment and the construction of the “Gauteng Nerve Centre” (GNC) operations control centre.

It is the largest contract for signalling equipment ever awarded in South Africa. The contract is worth approximately 90 million euros. It includes 15 type Sicas S7 electronic interlockings for the railway network in the province of Gauteng.This also comprises the interlocking for Johannesburg Park Station, one of the busiest railway stations in all of Africa. In addition, more than 800 counting heads and over 380 switch machines will be installed. The communication network will also be upgraded to meet the signalling requirements. The entire project is due to be completed by 2016.

The signalling equipment currently used in the South African province of Gauteng is obsolete. It is composed of a mixture of technologies, some of which date back to the 1930s, and can therefore no longer guarantee consistently reliable processing and monitoring of train movements. Moreover, the supply of spare parts necessary for maintenance cannot be ensured. This will change with the Siemens signalling equipment that has now been ordered. In future, the routes will be set and monitored electronically.

The brand new operations control centre will control a total of 70 interlockings in the Johannesburg area. The interlockings and the GNC will communicate through an optical fiber network which Siemens has delivered in 2010. The new train protection system will increase the operational capacity, provide a higher level of flexibility and safety, and reduce train delays.

South Africa is not just an emerging market, it is also the most important economy in Africa and provides one-third of the continent’s entire gross domestic product. Freight transport is a strong economic sector and is almost exclusively handled by rail. Rising economic growth has also led to increased demand for modernisation of the railway infrastructure. With approximately 25,000 route kilometers, the South African railway network is the largest in Africa and the tenth largest in the world.

Siemens Mobility has already upgraded the Orex Line (SishenSaldanha) with type Sicas S7 signalling equipment. More than 860 kilometers long, this heavy-haul iron-ore railway line is currently the second longest line in the world.

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