Consistent efficiency and safety improvements key for rail industry

26th February 2016 By: Bruce Montiea - Creamer Media Reporter

To ensure a safer and more efficient rail network, railway engineering company Wictra Holdings says consistent improvements in materials and safety procedures are needed.

The company has been servicing the South African rail industry for more than 20 years and has been at the forefront of providing solutions to improve the efficiency of materials used in refurbishing the rolling stock market segment, says Wictra Holdings Group CEO Wicus Pretorius.

Moreover, he mentions that, over the years, the company has also introduced various safety improvements, such as the modernised brake cylinder repair to improve the safe operation of the vacuum brake system, and the superior flame-retardant interior panelling that has improved cost efficiency and safety for passengers.

“During the early days of the 5M2 refurbishment programme, we also identified the need to improve passenger safety by modernising the door partitions of the 5M2 commuter coaches. The partitions were modified in phases culminating in the development of the existing stainless steel design,” he points out.

Confident of how its technology has improved safety and efficiency in the industry, Pretorius cites projects that the company has worked on in the past, which delivered favourable results.

“In terms of cost efficiency, we introduced modernised cabling configurations for long- distance passenger rail service Shosholoza Meyl’s coaches in 2014. Wictra Holdings was one of the first contractors to perform the full modernised refurbishment of Shosholoza Meyl-type coaches.

We are proud to be the only contractor thus far to have performed a total interior redesign and rebuild of Shosholoza Meyl’s dining cars and kitchen cars, which were delivered to the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) in 2014,” he states.

To curb vandalism, Wictra Holdings also initiated the incorporation of Bison board strips, instead of aluminium strips, between the interior coach panels thus rendering them worthless and of no interest to vandals.

Pretorius says another first for the company was the total refurbishment and delivery of a complete 5M2A train set as a unit to PRASA in 2011.

Further, Wictra Holdings was rated as the number one refurbishment contractor by PRASA in that same year, with sister company Rolling Stock Repair Services rated second.

Meanwhile, to ensure that the technology used at Wictra Holdings’ repair facilities is always up to date, Pretorius tells Engineering News that the company attends international railway conferences, such as InnoTrans, as well as liaises regularly with leading international companies, visit their facilities when required.

InnoTrans is an international biannual trade fair for transport technology held in Berlin, Germany. The fair comprises the railway technology, railway infrastructure, public transport, interior construction and tunnel construction segments.

Moreover, Wictra Holdings’ aim to improve on railway safety and efficiency comes at a time when the South African Railway Safety Regulator has embarked on a mission to decrease the number of accidents and incidents in railway operations.

Wictra Holdings looks forward to working on more projects that will further improve rail safety in South Africa.