Siemens completes South Africa’s largest rail resignalling project

The new system offers enhanced safety and efficiency to commuters.

By Chriselle Moraes on
16th May 2023

Siemens Mobility has completed the Gauteng resignalling project for the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA).

The project, the largest rail project in South Africa’s history, was executed in two phases. The Gauteng 1 (G1) contract was awarded in April 2011 and involved the construction of the Gauteng nerve centre and the resignalling of 17 stations.

The Gauteng 2 (G2) contract, awarded in March 2014, entailed the construction of a new central train control (CTC) facility in Germiston, the resignalling of an additional 72 stations, and track and overhead electrification works to improve the flexibility of train operations.

The project required 7.5 million construction hours, with over 550km of trenching carried out and more than 9,900 elements installed.

A PRASA pilot European Train Control System (ETCS) installation was completed for seven stations, ensuring the company is ETCS level-2 ready. This will give the flexibility to meet future network growth and safety through digital-based interlocking.

Obsolete relay-based signalling, some of which predated World War 2, was replaced with a new system based on electronic interlocking technology (SICAS S7), complying with safety integrity level-4.

The new systems will ensure that PRASA has a fully bi-directional system designed for 2.5-minute headways, including optimising timetable planning, remote monitoring, and fault-finding solutions for technicians.

The Siemens Mobility team delivered two stations each month at peak construction. The G1 and G2 contracts together consolidated 33 decentralised CTC/signal cabins into one nerve centre in Kaalfontein, with eight satellite CTCs which will help in business continuity. 

“The system offers enhanced safety and operational efficiency to our commuters, and we’ve already seen this on the Mabopane line, achieving a 95% availability and reliability rate. Additionally, the system’s security is improved through the reduction of copper, among other things,” said Athanacious Makgamatha, Acting Signal and Telecommunications Manager, PRASA.

PRASA personnel were trained to enable the migration and effective handling of the new technology. This included 32,200 hours of support training for train control officers moving from a desk and diagram system to an IT-based workstation. 

“We take immense pride in the exceptional teamwork demonstrated by both PRASA and Siemens in completing this complex project. This shows we have the local skills and resources to deliver advanced signalling systems for South Africa,” said Kevin Pillay, CEO of Siemens Mobility – South Africa.

Siemens Mobility also set up a supplier development programme and a local assembly and manufacturing facility in Northriding, Johannesburg. 

Local content exceeded 60% through local engineering, project execution and local production.

Photo: Image of a train (© Wirestock | Dreamstime)

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