Rail is the sustainable solution

A new report captures the socio-economic impact made in a financial year by Alstom, the group whose Gibela Rail Consortium is making the X’trapolis Mega Train from 30% lighter steel. Alstom is the majority shareholder in a further three joint ventures in South Africa: Alstom Ubunye, Bombela Maintenance and Alstom BTSA.

Employees at Alstom Ubunye, South Africa

Rail transportation is one of the most energy-efficient transport modes and will remain the backbone of mobility in a sustainable world. The average passenger cars in South Africa emit 148gCO2e/km, which is 18.9 times more than riding a train.

The X’trapolis Mega Train being produced at Gibela for Passenger Rail Agency South Africa (PRASA) is made from 30% lighter steel than trains made of carbon steel. The stainless steel translates to less energy consumption which results in lower greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, 99% of the train components are recoverable and 96% of them are recyclable, thus decreasing the likelihood of end-of-life impact.

Alstom, a global leader in sustainable and green mobility solutions, has released a report in collaboration with Ernst & Young (EY) capturing the company’s socio-economic contributions from April 2021 to March 2022. It highlights the support of over 9 000 jobs and R3.9-billion injected into South Africa as Alstom continues to grow its local presence.

“We have been in South Africa for at least 10 years now and our commitment to South Africa goes beyond the manufacturing of trains or railway components. We are a reliable local growth partner and are actively participating in the development of an inclusive and sustainable rail industry through localisation, job creation and skills development. This report creates a baseline understanding of the impact of our work to date and acts as a tool to measure our progress moving forward,” said Bernard Peille, Managing Director, Alstom Southern Africa.

Alstom’s strategy in South Africa is illustrated by significant investments in the country, which include Alstom Ubunye, Gibela Rail Consortium and most recently with Bombela Maintenance and Alstom Rolling Stock South Africa.

“Alstom’s commitment to eco-design is centred on minimising the environmental footprint of its solutions throughout the lifecycle. This approach is already applied to more than 50% of Alstom products globally with a target of having 100% of all new products by 2025,” says Peille.

Supporting local industry

“When we started our journey 10 years ago, the rail industry in South Africa was dormant and a significant effort was put into building Gibela’s supply chain which now consists of over 90 South African suppliers and 65% of the train’s content is supplied locally. Gibela also has over 1 000 talented employees and has delivered more than 100 locally made trains to PRASA,” said Andrew DeLeone, President of Alstom in Africa, Middle East and Central Asia. Alstom’s actions also extend to freight; it is contracted to supply electric Traxx locomotives to Transnet, locomotives which will contribute to reducing heavy vehicle traffic on South Africa’s roads.

“In 2022, we expanded our manufacturing capabilities and can now produce locomotive car body shells in South Africa. Growing these unique locomotive skills locally is in line with our long-term growth strategy to introduce much-needed state-of-the-art freight solutions to the rest of the Southern Africa market. Reduced heavy vehicle/truck traffic on our roads also leads to less carbon emissions and improved safety,” added Peille.

Enhancing the local economy

According to the report, Alstom South Africa purchased R3.6-billion of goods and services over the reporting period, 79% of which are from South African suppliers. The company’s dedication to local economic development has resulted in increased partnerships and support for local business enterprises. Alstom collaborates with over 500 suppliers in South Africa, who provide components for Alstom trains and services to projects across the country. Fully 99% of Alstom’s new employees have been local hires in South Africa, of which 90% are black Africans and 45% fall into the youth category.

The company is committed to gender diversity and inclusion. Women compete equally for all roles and as a result 35% of the workforce is now female and this number will grow in the coming years through deliberate efforts. Alstom is committed to developing greener, smarter and safer mobility for its customers but more importantly, to build local capability.

World-class skills training

In terms of skills and rail expertise development, Alstom invested in multiple skills transfer programmes and sent South African employees to various Alstom sites around the world including France, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Australia and India, among others. Alstom’s South African employees regularly undergo technical and behavioural skills training to ensure they operate at the same level as any Alstom employee at any site globally.

In addition, Alstom also supports educational initiatives in South Africa focusing on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects in high school and up to university level. Through its joint ventures, partnerships with universities are in place to advance railway-specific skills development, expand scientific and research capacity and attract and retain excellent researchers, students and scientists.

Alstom’s outlook for South Africa

By 2025, Alstom will grow its employee base by 10%, increase female representation up to 40% in the management, engineers and professionals category; optimise manufacturing to produce 62 X’trapolis Mega Trains per annum and intensify operational capacity to produce up to 50 locomotives per annum.

On track 

Alstom has supported over 9 000 jobs in South Africa, according to EY

  • R3.9-billion GDP contribution to South Africa’s economy
  • 99% local hires, 35% women
  • 65% X’trapolis train content supplied locally
  • 91% less gCO2/passenger.km by train compared to cars

About Alstom

Leading societies to a low-carbon future, Alstom develops and markets mobility solutions that provide sustainable foundations for the future of transportation. From high-speed trains, metros, monorails and trams to turnkey systems, services, infrastructure, signalling and digital mobility, Alstom offers its diverse customers the broadest portfolio in the industry.

Over 150 000 vehicles in commercial service worldwide attest to the company’s proven expertise in project management, innovation, design and technology. In 2021, the company was included in the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices, World and Europe, for the 11th consecutive time. Headquartered in France and present in 70 countries, Alstom employs more than 74 000 people. The Group posted revenues of €15.5-billion for the fiscal year ending on 31 March 2022.

Website: www.alstom.com