The bodyshell will now progress to the fitting phase, with the first train set to be completed by the end of 2015 and shipped to South Africa for a comprehensive testing programme before it enters revenue service in June 2016.

The first 20 trains from the €4bn order are being built in Brazil to provide necessary skills training to South African teams before production shifts to South Africa.

A purpose-built manufacturing plant is under development in Dunnottar, 50km east of Johannesburg, where work will be carried out by the Gibela consortium, in which Alstom has a 61% stake, New Africa Rail 9%, and Ubumbano Rail 30%. Ubumbano is the hosting entity in the National Empowerment Fund for the Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment partners, which was a critical element in the contract which was awarded in December 2013 and is South Africa's largest-ever rolling stock order.

Gibela now employs 78 people and 16 South African railway engineers are almost halfway through an 18-month training programme at several Alstom plants in Europe.