The South African government on Wednesday announced a consortium led by Alstom had won a $5.8 billion tender to overhaul the country's passenger railways.
Transport Minister Ben Martins said a group led by the France-based firm would build 600 trains and 3,600 waggons over a 10-year period from 2015 to 2025.
"This process is much more than a train purchase, we are reviving our rail engineering sector, contributing to skills development and job creation amongst other bigger objectives," said Martins.
Alstom along with local affiliate Actom beat seven other bidders including Switzerland's Stadler Rail AG, Bombardier and China CNR Corporation.
It is the first phase of a much bigger, $14 billion project to revamp the country's Metrorail system, including the building of 7,224 commuter trains for Gauteng -- including Johannesburg and Pretoria -- Durban, the Western Cape and Eastern Cape.
Some 90 percent of the current rolling stock is said to date back to the late 1950s.
The South African government expects the project to create around 65,992 much-needed jobs, with the first trains expected to be delivered in 2015.
At least 65 percent of the project will be built locally.
"We have been informed by the client that we are the preferred bidder," an Alstom company source in Paris said.
"The project will not be signed for another few weeks or months."
Alstom is also supplying steam turbines to South Africa's mega coal power station, which is currently under construction.
Earlier this year government announced major infrastructure development projects worth billions of dollars, in a push to kickstart economic growth.
Other longterm projects include the upgrade of the country's ports, housing and water infrastructure.