Rail infrastructure upgrades remain a core focus of the ongoing industrialisation of Africa, where the transportation of goods and commodities is often difficult and costly, owing to underinvestment in rail infrastructure, says multinational power and engine manufacturer and distributor Cummins.
“China’s October 2015 announcement to pledge $50-billion towards the industrialisation and development of African infrastructure – together with State-owned freight utility Transnet’s R300-billion seven- year Market Development Strategy (MDS) – is a clear indication of the tangible commitment to this lucrative sector,” Cummins explains.
The MDS is part of Transnet’s ambition to accommodate the fifth-largest railway system globally by 2019.
“According to Statistics South Africa, over 734-million tons of freight was moved in South Africa in 2013. “It is estimated that over 70% of this freight was moved by road, despite the fact that railways make up a substantial portion of Africa’s transport infrastructure – further highlighting the need for rail upgrades,” the company elaborates.
Since its announcement in 2012, Cummins notes that the MDS has made significant strides and, as a result, South Africa will continue to shift its freight from road to rail, cutting both logistical costs and carbon emissions in the process.
“According to the MDS overview, rail volumes are projected to increase from approximately 200-million tons to 350-million tons by the end of the programme in 2019.”
Cummins notes that, in March 2014, Transnet announced a R50-billion contract with four manufacturers to build a fleet of 1 064 new locomotives to drive forward the MDS.
Power, efficiency, and reliability are key in powering these machines, it says, as they are responsible for pulling multiple wagons that carry substantial amounts of precious cargo across vast distances.
QSK95 for Siemens
Cummins’ QSK95 engine, designed specifically for the rail market, began production at the US-based Seymour Engine Plant in September 2015. At 2 983 kW, the QSK95 is the highest-output 16-cylinder high-speed diesel engine available in the market.
Combining Cummins’ latest- generation Modular Common Rail Fuel System technology with quad-turbocharging and integral selective catalytic reduction after-treatment, the QSK95 delivers reduced noise, excellent response and ultra-low emissions capability in a smaller footprint than the medium-speed diesel engines traditionally used in locomotives.
Cummins has delivered the first QSK95 engine built to a rail specification to automation company Siemens for installation to its Charger locomotive, a new diesel-electric locomotive designed for the North American passenger rail market.
The Charger locomotive was delivered into the market last year. Although it is currently being manufactured for passenger operations, the company notes that its Cummins QSK95 is suited to freight applications in any operating conditions.
“Cummins welcomes the opportunity to partner with customers globally to help them succeed,” says Cummins rail sales and business development leader Madelyn Pretorius, adding that the company is pleased that its “ultra-clean” diesel engine technology is helping Siemens locomotives to operate efficiently while significantly reducing emissions and improving the environment.
Cummins has 70 years of experience, with proven reliability and durability in high-speed diesels in rail.
The company currently has over 13 000 engines in railway service globally.
Locomotive, railcar, track maintenance and auxiliary power applications are all available in the Cummins engine product range in the rail segment, covering a complete power range up to 4 400 hp using the QSK95 for both new and repower needs in this sector.
Africa Rail 2017
Cummins showcased its latest technology for the rail industry, and had an international speaker delivering a key presentation at this year’s Africa Rail exhibition and conference, which was held from June 13 to 14 at the Sandton Convention Centre, in Johannesburg.
The company was also a gold sponsor of the event, which is “billed as the largest and only event of its kind in Africa”, creating a unique platform for African rail operators, end-users, and governments to come together.
“Africa Rail this year gave us a unique opportunity to engage with key sector leaders, new business partners and customers,” comments Pretorius, adding that Cummins operates across different business units to offer total solutions.
“We gave an indication of our full product range and how customisation can be applied to fit different applications,” she adds, explaining that the spotlight fell on the rail leader for Africa and Middle East, application engineering, filtration and power generation.
New products showcased at the event included the QSK95 engine.
The engine, Cummins enthuses, delivers a “radically- improved” power capability for both freight and passenger operations. On actual display at the stand was a 16-cylinder QSK60 engine, available with single-stage turbocharging or a two-stage version for high- altitude and high-load factor applications. It can deliver 2 013 kW at 3 658 m elevations without power derate.
“Our aim was to demonstrate to customers, manufacturers, local assemblers and anyone involved in the rail industry that we are committed to partnering with them, providing complete business solutions. With engagement, we get a clear understanding of what the expectations are from us as a solution-offering organisation and what we can do to contribute towards their success and ours,” Pretorius notes.
“Hence, the main message Cummins conveyed at Africa Rail 2017 was: ‘You can Depend on us’,” she enthuses.
“With the involvement of our aftermarket service, first-fit specialists, application engineers, and factory support engineers, we are able to offer a total solution from pit to port,” Pretorius elaborates.
“Cummins boasts extensive distributor coverage in Africa, with engine rebuild and service capability to support our product. We are able to offer best-in-class solutions to reduce customer total cost of ownership and still meet the harsh conditions of the African continent,” concludes Cummins Africa rail business director Andy Pilkington.