CORRECTION: Five locomotives arrive at TransNamib


WINDHOEK: TransNamib Holdings Limited on Tuesday unveiled five refurbished locomotives as part of its 180-day turn-around plan that was adopted on 25 September 2014.

The trains are part of 10 trains which the parastatal plans to acquire during the course of 2015 at a cost of over N.dollars 71 million.

The five trains were scheduled to start operating right after the ceremony.

They consist of two 34-Class locomotives which will service the section between Walvis Bay and Kranzberg, and three 33-Class locomotives that will be dedicated to the section between Kranzberg and Tsumeb, and hopefully Tsumeb and Oshikango.

The locomotives were renovated and made available to TransNamib within a period of three months by South African TransNet Engineering company. It usually takes between 18 and 24 months to manufacture and deliver new trains.

According to the contract between TransNet Engineering and TransNamib, the SA-based company will add 21 locomotives to TransNamib’s fleet of GE locomotives.

The contract includes a five-year sustainability package in terms of which TransNet Engineering will bolster TransNamib’s ability to maintain its own fleet, address its operational deficiencies and up-skill its artisans with training, support services and a much-needed revamp of TransNamib’s workshop.

Ten locomotives are being refurbished in TransNet Engineering’s workshop in Bloemfontein and Pretoria, while 11 locomotives will be repaired in Windhoek by TransNamib’s staff and in Bloemfontein by TransNet Engineering.

Both types of locomotives were manufactured under the Association of American Railroads (AAR) standards.

The General Electric (GE) 33-Class locomotive weighs approximately 94.5 tonnes giving it 15.75 tonnes per axle, while the Electro-Motive Division (EMD) 34-Class is a heavier locomotive weighing about 112 tonnes that leads to 18.6 tonnes per axle.

TransNamib’s acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Hippy Tjivikua said during the trains’ unveiling that the GE 33 locomotives are similar to the current type of locomotives the company has, and are more suitable to the company’s railway network.

The EMD 34-Class locomotives are expected to work on the restricted railway sections of Walvis Bay–Kranzber, and the newly-constructed section of Tsumeb-Oshikango section due to its axle load.

The two 34-Class locomotives are heading to the coast because they can pull up the steep gradient from the coast to the Kranzberg station, and each has a fuel tank capacity of 6 100 litres of diesel which is nearly double the fuel tank of the 33-Class’s 3 600 litres tank.

Tjivikua said both types of locomotives have vigilance systems to check on the train driver’s alertness. One technical advantage the EMD 34-Class locomotives has over the GE 33-Class trains is that its traction motors can be individually isolated in the event of failure, thereby allowing the locomotive to retain a higher tractive pulling power with the remaining working traction motors.

The acting CEO further expressed satisfaction with the arrival of locomotives, adding that they hope to increase their productivity.

“Both types of locomotives are going to significantly increase the rail pulling capacity of the TransNamib and thereby satisfy the needs of our much valued customers,” said Tjivikua.

“Having achieved this through sweat and blood, we are going to deliver more locos and push the number of imports to 17 locomotives,” he added.

Tjivikua also emphasised that they are going to repair more of their staged locomotives, starting with the batch of 11 GE locomotives followed by another batch of 10 GE locomotives, and a third batch of another 10 GE locomotives.

This will push the current running fleet of 18 locomotives to over 50 locomotives, to “improve on the reliability and availability of our locos”.

“We have a vision and it continues. We are going to turnaround this company,” he stressed.

The trains are made to operate for 30 years, but most of TransNamib’s GE trains are on average of 49 years old.