South Africa’s Transnet has secured a total R13bn (US$1.1bn) loan for the acquisition of locomotives from Bombardier and General Electrics (GE).

The financing is split between a 14-year, R6bn US Exim-backed facility from Barclays Africa (R2.25bn), Standard Bank (R2.25bn) and Old Mutual (R1.5bn), and a 13-year, R6.99bn loan provided jointly by Export Development Canada (EDC, R5.24bn) and Investec (R1.75bn).

Transnet awarded manufacturing contracts for the building of 1,064 locomotives in March last year, of which 240 will be manufactured by Bombardier Transportation South Africa (BTSA), 359 by China South Rail Zhuzhou Electric Locomotive, 233 by GE and 232 by China North Rail Rolling Stock.

All locomotives will be produced in Transnet’s Pretoria and Durban facilities, and the first trains should be rolled out within the company’s network in July 2015.

This purchase forms part of the biggest rail recapitalisation programme in South Africa’s history, with over 1,300 locomotives being acquired in total.

“The locomotive build programme is intended to modernise our fleet in a decisive drive to improve the reliability of our service. More importantly, this programme is critical in our pursuit of the crucial goal of migrating rail-friendly cargo off our roads,” Transnet group chief executive Brian Molefe says in a statement.

South Africa has been identified as a market of corporate priority for EDC, and the ECA is planning to open an office in Johannesburg in the summer of 2015.