Gautrain ‘will be ready for World Cup’

8 January 2010

Despite earlier doubts about its completion date, the Gautrain rapid rail link between Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport and Sandton Station will be ready in time for South Africa’s hosting of the 2010 Fifa World Cup™, says construction consortium Bombela.

The Bombela Concession Company has just been given two amounts of R144-million each from the provincial and national governments, and it plans to have the route between the airport and Sandton complete by 27 May. The World Cup starts on 11 June.

“The Gautrain consortium and the Gauteng provincial government have come to a resolution to ensure completion of the OR Tambo link and Sandton before the event,” according to a statement from the National Treasury’s Thoraya Pandy.

In July 2009, Bombela offered to fast-track construction of this section at a cost of R1.3-billion, but this was refused by the provincial government. Bombela responded by indicating it would find solutions without the extra funding, says Ingrid Jensen, the spokesperson for the Gautrain.

The extra R288-million was paid at the end of 2009 and, stresses Jensen, it will not necessarily be used for the completion of the airport link but rather for general construction along the entire route. The amount largely accounts for inflationary costs.

“A lot can happen, like construction delays. It is a tight schedule,” she says.

In November, Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane emphasised that the Gautrain was never a World Cup project, saying that it would be a bonus if the train were ready by 11 June.

Good progress

Construction work to the airport station is making good progress. The station concourse is directly linked to the departures level of the adjacent new central terminal building, one level below.

“Finishing works within the station concourse shell are approaching completion and electrical and mechanical installations are well advanced. Ticket vending machines and fare gates have been installed and are being tested,” according to the latest Gautrain construction update.

“Externally, the platform structures and canopies are substantially complete, with finishing works, including the installation of tinted glass closure screens, currently in progress. Rail tracks have been installed through the station. Construction of the three sets of emergency access stairs located at the ends on the platform is ongoing.”

Meanwhile, the 16 kilometres of tunnels running from Park Station in Johannesburg’s CBD to the Marlboro Station in Alexandra are complete. Work on the seven emergency access shafts – in Hillbrow, Riviera, Dunkeld, Rivonia Road, Illovo, and two in Houghton – is ongoing.

The 10 Gautrain stations are beginning to look like railway stations, with entrances and exits, stairways, platforms and parking garages taking shape.

Delays in construction have been caused by land acquisition issues, delivery and numerous project variation instructions.

Source: City of Johannesburg