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Prasa unveils new high-powered locomotive

The locomotive costs around R46 million to design and build and is the first of its kind in Africa.

A prototype of Prasa’s new locomotive series. Picture: Twitter via @AlstomItalia.

CAPE TOWN - The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) has unveiled a new high-powered diesel locomotive that will vastly improve long distance rail travel.

The Afro 4000 locomotive series forms part of Prasa's rail turnaround strategy.

It was unveiled at Cape Town Station earlier today after arriving on ship from Spain.

The new multi-million rand locomotive has been hailed as a revolution.

It's the first of its kind in Africa. The locomotive costs around R46 million to design and build but Prasa says its money well spent.

The rail agency says it's the first step in providing a high-quality, safe and reliable long distance service.

The service has previously experienced severe delays due to outdated locomotives.

The locomotive will officially start running in March next year

Prasa's recapitalisation project will see an overhaul of its fleet over the next 10 years. The project is expected to cost R170 billion and will see older trains being replaced by faster and more reliable trains on local railways.

"The old fleet is prone to breaking and all sorts of things leading to people complaining. We took a decision to modernise the entire business, the stations, the fleet, signalling and all of that," said Prasa spokesperson Moffet Mofokeng.

. @Derek_Hanekom #PRASA #newloco from #Spain JUST unveiled today #CapeTownStation! (Pic @Dee_Motsepe) @Premier_Classe1 pic.twitter.com/dtzUzTu0zY

- James Costello (@jamescapetown) December 1, 2014

. @ismailvadi More pics of #PRASA #newloco from Spain JUST unveiled #CapeTownStation! #RailLove (pics @Dee_Motsepe) pic.twitter.com/SIY9zofB25

These trains will include air conditioning, modern visual and audio information, real-time data travel information, Wi-Fi on the Metro Express, energy-absorbing car bodies and CCTV coverage with two weeks of data storage as well as a black box event recorder.

Furthermore, the trains will have automatic doors and open gangways that would allow for visibility throughout the train.

Prasa also revealed that it has identified 135 train stations nationally for upgrades.

In Cape Town, priority for this refurbishment will be given to the south east corridor which is from Cape Town to Strandfontein via Mitchells Plain.

There are also plans to extend the rail network to Stellenbosch, Paarl and Somerset West, which is expected to become the region's third biggest commercial node.

"The trains has 4,000 horsepower, they can pull about 19 coaches. There are 70 of them. They will be delivered until 2018," said Mofokeng.

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