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R& H Railway Consultants of signal, mechanical and systems operating engineers. Now we have a team of 80 engineers who can tackle the most sophisticated projects in the world." He is also keen to point out that South African companies can offer a strong competitive advantage over most competitors, including those from traditionally low- cost areas. " Even before the economic downturn, there was a trend to look to South Africa for railway engineers. In South Africa, consultancy services are highly competitive against the services in Europe, North America and Middle East. Even China and India have seen their costs soar in this field," he says. Meanwhile, the company is seeing natural organic growth due to the increased interest in rail transport and rail freight as a more environmentally friendly form of transport. However, while Schlebusch is keen to see the company become the railway consultancy of choice to the mining sector across the African continent, he also wants to see it demonstrate its capabilities further afield. " The Lagos metro is an excellent showcase for what we are capable of, but we also want to move beyond the African continent. For example, we are already working on a major audit of the Turkish railway system on behalf of that government; and we expect to tackle growing numbers of similar projects. Railways will increasingly be the infrastructure option of the future across every continent and we are the ideal partner to help put them in place," he concludes. - Editorial research by Robert Hodgson Prior to joining the Dar Al- Handasah Group, R& H Railway had worked in the SADC region with many major mining companies, including BHP, Rio Tinto, Coal of Africa and Xstrata Coal. " We were already established as one of the biggest railway companies in our part of the world- we were the oldest and most prolific railway consultant in sub- Saharan Africa. Yet, despite our impact within SADC, in global terms we were just a small South African institution. The great benefit of working with Dar Al- Handasah is the immediate global footprint it gave us," he says. Before the union with R& H Railway, Dar Al- Handasah as the holding company could only provide railway expertise through sub- contractors and joint ventures. Dar Al- Handasah can now take on much more complex rail projects and has a great deal more control over the final outcome. " They now have immediate access to one of the most skilled teams in the world. There is a complete company at their disposal with 80 outstanding railway specialists," Schlebusch points out. " Without doubt we have found the correct partner. It is very much a win- win situation for both of us." Big parents also make it easy to link up with big partners. R& H Railway has since developed a close alliance with Thales, one of the biggest railway systems providers in the world, as well as with Siemens and General Electric. " We are used as a sounding board and as consultants, but it also means that we can tap into the expertise of the world's leading providers in related fields." Since developing a springboard to the international stage, R& H Railway has already worked on high profile projects in Guinea and Ghana. The company also provides technical adjudication on the state- of- the- art, high speed connection to Johannesburg International Airport from Pretoria. In addition, it is the driving force behind the Lagos metro. " Lagos is one of the biggest cities in the world with no metro, just the terrible congestion that comes from 17 million people having to find their way around. When complete, we will have delivered the third largest metro system in the world after Tokyo and Moscow," he explains. The expertise needed to participate in projects such as this has been carefully honed over the past five years. Traditionally, the company had focused on being an adviser to the private sector, particularly mining, given that 50 per cent of railways in South Africa exist to support the mining sector and industrial production. " Since the ramp-up, we have taken a different approach to our recruitment " When complete, we will have delivered the third largest metro system in the world after Tokyo and Moscow" February 10 www. bus- ex. com 119