Railserve LEAF Gen-Set locomotives ready for export to Africa.
Six 220,000-lb Railserve LEAF locomotives, each individually shrink wrapped, were shipped to Gabon in West Africa this past fall.

Atlanta-based Railserve Inc. has made its first sale in Africa and is looking for other opportunities in sub-Saharan Africa to meet the demand for cost-effective locomotives for rail yard switching and other activities.

The sale of six locomotives was the company’s first out of North America and managed to outbid a Chinese competitor due to financing from the Export-Import Bank of the U.S.

Railserve is a member company of the Marmon Group, a global, diversified industrial organization that is a member of Berkshire Hathaway Co.

Six 220,000-lb. Railserve LEAF (Lower Emissions and Fuel) locomotives were exported to the West African country of Gabon with a guaranteed loan of $10 setrag-delivery-crane-081458million extended by American Trade & Finance Co.

The loan was guaranteed by EXIM to finance the sale to Society d’Exploitation du Transgabonais (SETRAG) a French railway operator in Gabon.

T.J. Mahoney, LEAF’s locomotive program manager, told Global Atlanta that the sale to SETRAG, was the company’s first sale out of North America.

The company first learned of the opportunity in Gabon through a business network in Canada, he said, where the LEAF locomotives already have a presence for in-plant rail yard switching.

According to Mr. Mahoney, the support of EXIM was a “critical element” in the buyer’s selection of Railserve and the sale has been responsible for expanding its workforce at its manufacturing plant in Texas.

In a June 6 news release, EXIM Chairman and President Fred P. Hochberg praised the sale as “a great example of how the Bank’s financing equips American exporters to beat the competition overseas while supporting jobs at home.” EXIM loan guarantees mitigate the potential risks associated with selling to foreign buyers and ensures that U.S. businesses get paid, according to the release.

Mr. Mahoney said that Railserve locomotives are mostly used for shunting (or switching) activities, but that their larger models can pull a limited number of railcars. He suspected that the LEAF locomotives would be used near a magnesium mine in Gabon.

leaf-headAmong the LEAF locomotives’ competitive advantages are their fuel efficiency, the availability of spare parts, the company’s remote viewing capabilities to monitor the wear and tear on parts and its willingness to include spare parts before they need to be replaced under the deal.

Mr. Mahoney said that he believes the company will find more opportunities on the African continent and plans to attend the AfricaRail 2016 conference to be held in Johannesburg June 28-29.