Private locomotive and rail operator, Traxtion, has opened its new Rosslyn-based maintenance facility for business. The company, known in the industry for the quality of its rail freight services offering, now has the capacity to provide locomotive rebuild and overhaul services at scale.
The industrialised area of Rosslyn, a suburb of Tshwane, is the manufacturing centre of Gauteng, best known for its automotive industry. “The opening of this facility signals a giant leap as we solidify our position as Africa’s pre-eminent private rail operator,” says Traxtion CEO, James Holley, who highlights that the business has been providing rail services and solutions across the continent for 31 years.
The deciding criteria for Traxtion making such a significant R68-million investment in this particular location is threefold. “The pool of skilled artisans available in the region to facilitate rapid growth was a very important factor,” explains Holley. “This, along with the opportunity to do a cost-effective refurbishment of an existing facility, and the outstanding rail access infrastructure into Rosslyn, were drivers behind the investment.”
Locomotives for refurbishment will be transported directly into Rosslyn via rail from as far afield as the DRC, Tanzania, Namibia, Zambia, Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe. By collaborating with complementary rail services providers, Traxtion now offers its clients a full-service destination at the Rosslyn workshop and is able to provide rolling stock refurbishment solutions for mining, industrial, freight and state-owned enterprises throughout sub-Saharan Africa.
Locomotives from West and East Africa are shipped to the port of Durban, and either railed or trucked up to Gauteng. “Regardless of where the locomotives are from, we have the expertise and capacity to refurbish and service them here in Roslyn,” says Holley.
It is a lesser known fact that South Africa has one of the top 10 largest railways in the world and moves in excess of 220 million tons of rail freight per year. The problem seen on South Africa’s roads is that road transportation still enjoys a disproportionately large share of the freight market, creating truck congestion and dangerous driving conditions.
The new 7 370 m² premises, which employs 50 highly trained people, gives Traxtion the capacity to match its inherent capabilities as a specialist in the repair and maintenance of diesel and electric locomotives.
“This facility enables us to increase the number of locomotives that we are able to refurbish from three ̶ at our old workshops ̶ to 15 at any one time,” explains Holley. “The full property size at
50 883 m² gives us a lot more room for future development. We are currently installing five of the eight intended railway lines into the workshop, and that’s before we start developing the rest of the site,” adds Holley.
Current refurbishments on the premises include 12 locomotives from Traxtion’s own fleet of 59 locomotives which will take nine months to refurbish. “All the key component parts have been procured and are in our store on the premises,” says Holley. He explains that the major parts of a locomotive such as the engine, the alternator, traction motors and other key component parts are refurbished and not replaced. “It’s what we’ve done for more than 30 years and it’s what Traxtion is extremely good at. This is exactly what our new Rosslyn rail hub is going to be focussed on doing,” concludes Holley.