Thirteen of Stadler Rail’s Afro 4000 locomotives, built in Valencia for Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa), are now on auction. The operator wants to retrieve a part of its money, after the commissioning of the locomotives was cancelled.
It was done with great pride in December 2014, when Prasa officially presented the Afro 4000 locomotive at the Cape Town train station. Routes such as the ones from Johannesburg to Durban or Cape Town were at stake. Stadler sold the locomotives to an intermediary, Swifambo Rail Leasing, which consequently delivered them to Prasa.
The twenty Afro 4000’s, a design directly based on Vossloh’s Euro 4000 model, were part of a larger order for 70 locos in total. The other 50 machines should have been delivered as dual mode locomotives.
Corruption, safety issues, debate
Over time 13 Afro 4000’s arrived in South Africa. Swifambo Rail Leasing became subject of a corruption scandal, followed by long-lasting court proceedings. Also, Prasa alledgedly faced operational issues with the diesels. During test, the operator found out that the use of the locomotives under electric wiring could form a safety risk, as they were possibly too tall. It resulted in a big debate, but the result remained the same: thirteen brand new locomotives made for South Africa did not enter service. And now they can end up on a different continent.
Now, Prasa wants to try to retrieve some of its money, albeit only a fraction of what was invested originally, by auctioning off the diesels. The auction is taking place over the first 12 days of September.
About the locomotives
These six-axle, 1.067 mm-gauge, 16-cylinder EMD 16-710-G3B turbocharged, diesel engine-powered locos with a top speed of 120 km/h can theoretically be of use in countries such as Namibia, Nigeria, Malawi, Mozambique, Indonesia, Japan, Taiwan, Philippines, Australia, New Zealand, Honduras, Costa Rica, Botswana, Canada, Congo, or Ecuador. For other markets, at least the bogies needs to adjusted, changed for use on another track gauge.
Recently, Stadler Rail was successful in a country with an even ‘narrower’ gauge: it sold three SALi (South American Light Loco) locomotives to Bolivia as reported earlier this year.