The 50's epitomised the boom of the Industrial Age, with post-war enthusiasm suburban life flourished. The rise of the 'modern' era was evident in the rapid development of technology, especially electrical engineering and large-scale industrialisation. The development and innovation of passenger commuter train was propelled forward substantially by these forces.
During the 50's trains were imported from England. These trains boasted a blue livery and were known as the class 5M2. In the late 50's coaches were based on the British design. These newer coaches were named the class 5M2A and sported a burgundy red and grey paint finish. In the late 80's and early 90's 14 series of these coaches were manufactured.
THESE TRAINS WERE A LEAP FORWARD IN REGARD TO PASSENGER COMMUTER NEEDS.
- Design Criteria:
- Standardise to 3000 Volt DC (Direct Current) traction.
- "New" design from 1M's in terms of traction power and train sets.
- The "fast post office" service was provided by the 2M1 motorised trains, which served in this role until the late 80's. Longer train compilation became possible.
- Station platform designs became "more" than just a "halt" for a train.
- The basic "stagecoach" definition of passenger comfort was still prevalent.
THE '5M: THE "ALL-STEEL SUBURBAN TRAIN"
PROTOTYPES: 6, 7, 8 & 9M
- Design Criteria:
- Safety to the commuters
- 'Smooth' operation by a stable undercarriage
- Increased capacity throughput (numbers of passengers)
- Improved technological systems, i.e. braking and electrical interiors
- Automatic Train Rostering and Scheduling
- The first locally built trains were commissioned in 1959/60 serving the Witwatersrand and Pretoria regions.
- The corporate colour of these trains was blue.
- Trains were imported and off-loaded at Durban docks in 1958.
- Most of these trains are still in operation although they have been refurbished and totally updated using appropriate technologies.
During the late 1980's an international study tour was conducted to research the replacement programme for the ageing class 5M2 trains. The aim of the study was to consider the latest technology. Orders were placed with Hitachi and Siemens for one prototype train set each, consisting of twelve coaches, named the class 6M and 7M. These trains were manufactured in Japan and Switzerland respectively and imported in 1983. They became known as the 'new generation' trains.
During 1985 an order was placed with Dorbyl as the main contractor and Hitachi as sub-contractor to manufacture eight class 8M trains, using the class 6M as a reference point. Delivery of these trains commenced soon thereafter and the last module was delivered during 1992. These class 8M trains are in service in Cape Town on the Cape Flats network.
During 1997 proposals were requested for the class 9M trains. These trains would have been the start of a replacement programme for the ageing class 5M2A trains servicing the Soweto line. Unfortunately this replacement project was cancelled due to funding constraints at the same time.
These variations share common design criteria with slight differences enabling comparisons to be made between trains.