The final interior and exterior design for the trains was unveiled at the Africa Rail conference in Johannesburg on July 2 in the presence of of South Africa's transport minister Mrs Dipuo Peters and Prasa CEO Mr Lucky Montana.

"The project is running at full speed and we have successfully reached the first important milestone," says Montana.

The first group of Gibela's newly-appointed South African engineers has already begun an 18-month training course at Alstom plants in Europe, while preparatory works are underway at Alstom's Lapa plant in Brazil, where the first 20 trains will be built. Alstom says it expects to begin assembling the first vehicle within the next few weeks and the first train will arrive in South Africa next year.

Following the delivery of the first 20 trains, final assembly will be transferred to a new purpose-built facility at Dunnottar, 50km east of Johannesburg.