African Press International (API)

"Daily Online News Channel".

South Africa: Gautrain on track for 2010 arrival

Posted by African Press International on March 9, 2008

The power outages and a few geological surprises on site have not derailed Gautrains target to complete the route from Sandton to OR Tambo airport by 2010.

Gautrain spokeswoman Barbara Jensen said yesterday the first leg of the rapid rail link was on track . The first year of construction had been spent largely on finalising civil engineering designs, the train depot and the route between the airport and Johannesburgs Park Station. This year would see vigorous civil construction works. She said R5,6bn was spent in the 2006- 07 financial year, and this was expected to increase to R7,7bn in 2007- 08 .

The highlight of 2008 will be the expected meeting of two tunnels that are being simultaneously excavated from Marlboro Portal and Mushroom Farm, she said. Most of the tunnelling between Rosebank Station and Park Station, which is to be carried out by the German-made boring machine, is also expected to be completed by the end of the year. The 6km stretch is the only section that will not use drill and blast techniques, because of the high water content and soft soil.

Jensen said 6km of test track, consisting of hardened high-speed railway track, would be laid in Midrand towards the middle of this year . The laying of the 80km train track was scheduled to begin in about 12 to 18 months . The construction of the stations, which would also be completed in the first phase scheduled for 2010, was proceeding as planned, Jensen said. Tunnelling at Park Station towards Rosebank Station was 250m from the tunnel portal, while more than 160m had been excavated at Rosebank in the direction of Sandton. Work had begun to link Sandtons two shafts, which are about 50m and 45m deep , with 50m of tunnelling having been completed.

Jensen said construction was under way in the Midrand area, heading towards Centurion. This section included a number of bridges and two of the 15 viaducts planned. Disruption in areas where viaducts were being installed had been minimised by using precast sections made at the Midrand depot and then moving them to the site. It will be the job of transport civil engineering company Arup SA, as the projects independent certifier, to check that the Gautrain is designed and built properly. This includes certifying more than 2500 milestones the Bombela consortium completes along the way. Arup then issues operating certificates allowing Bombela to be paid.

Chris Andrew, a member of Bombelas technical team, said yesterday work was taking place simultaneously across the 80km route, with the exception of a few pockets where there are still difficulties gaining access. In some cases this had to do with public objections, including an objection in Centurion to noise. He did not believe the objections would delay the project. There have been delays in some sections. But we are ahead in others, so on the whole the project is running on schedule. Andrew said dolomite in the Centurion area had provided some difficulties because it created large differences in depth from one area to the next, but surveyors had sorted them out.

Published by Korir, API source.BusinessDay.SA

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