Transnet Freight Rail employees celebrate GCU qualifications

08 December 2017

Transnet Freight Rail (TFR) employees celebrated the completion of Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) qualifications at a ceremony in South Africa on Thursday, December 7.

GCU Principal and Vice-Chancellor Professor Pamela Gillies CBE FRSE led the fourth graduation ceremony held at the TFR’s School of Rail campus in Esselenpark with a leadership speech from Transnet Group Chief Executive Mr Siyabonga Gama.

A total of 183 TFR employees graduated with a BSc in Railway Operations Management, Diploma of Higher Education and Certificates of Higher Education in Railway Operations Management.

Glasgow Caledonian University’s School for Work Based Education has for 4 years worked in partnership with the University of Johannesburg to deliver this unique, bespoke programme to Transnet Freight Rail with the collaboration originating in a UK partnership with the Institution of Railway Operators. The sister programme in the UK is delivered to train operating companies and freight operating companies across the UK rail sector.

More than 530 TFR employees have now successfully completed the programme since its establishment in 2013.  The programme is designed to enable TFR’s Market Demand Strategy for 2021, and has been extended through a new contract to continue until 2021.

TFR is Transnet’s largest division with 30,000 employees and maintains around 80% of Africa’s total rail network. Transnet is investing around £3.9billion in skills development and training as it develops its infrastructure.

Professor Pamela Gillies CBE FRSE, GCU Principal and Vice-Chancellor, said: “I congratulate our latest cohort of graduates and I am proud that the partnership between Glasgow Caledonian University, the Transnet Freight Rail, the University of Johannesburg and the Institution of Railway Operators continues to develop, as we co-create courses to enhance the life chances of Transnet employees and enabling the business to be as efficient and productive as it can be.  This activity is an important part of our enduring commitment, as the University for the Common Good, to provide educational opportunity to working people in Africa.”

Siyabonga Gama, Transnet Group Chief Executive, said: “The new knowledge and skills attained during this programme speaks directly to the company’s road to rail strategy which seeks to increase rail freight and reduce trucks on our roads. The men and women that we are celebrating today remain key players for Transnet to achieve this goal.”

The University signed a new five-year strategic partnership in September to expand its portfolio of sector-specific railway operations management programmes, in partnership with the University of Johannesburg.

The portfolio of flexible, work-based qualifications is an evolution of GCU’s successful 11-year partnership in the UK with the Institution of Railway Operators.

Transnet Freight Rail, which specialises in the transportation of freight, is making its undergraduate BSc in Railway Operations Management and the new Masters Degree programme a core feature of its talent-management programme to achieve the company’s seven-year growth strategy. The company aims to expand and modernise the country’s rail, port and pipeline infrastructure to promote economic growth in South Africa. Almost 1400 employees at middle, senior and management levels will enrol from 2017 to 2021.

Transnet Freight Rail employs 30,000 staff and maintains an extensive rail network across South Africa that connects with other networks in the sub-Saharan region, with its rail infrastructure representing about 80% of Africa's total.