The Gautrain rapid-rail project will start full system trial operations on the section between Sandton station and the OR Tambo International Airport in March, says Gautrain spokesperson Dr Barbara Jensen.

Gautrain Midrand
The operator, Bombela, is expected to complete its ten-week trial run for this section in May.

Commuters traveling between Johannesburg, the airport and Pretoria have already witnessed the various train sets undergoing testing on certain parts of the route.

Although the contractual completion date for the project's first phase is June 27, Bombela - and the client - the Gauteng provincial government - is negotiating to see whether it can be wrapped up by May 27, so that it will be finished in time for the World Cup kick-off in June.

This year's phase one work will include several milestones.

In January, all the electrical and mechanical (E&M) installation work will be completed, with the exception of some automatic fare collection equipment.

Complete area integration testing will take place in February.

The main bus depot - a dedicated bus system will feed into the train route - is expected to be completed in the same month.

The OR Tambo International Airport station, Rhodesfield, Marlboro and Sandton stations should all be largely completed and operatational before the end of May, notes Jensen.

The remainder of the 80 km route - phase two - which includes the line north to Tshwane and the line south to Park station, in Johannesburg, is scheduled for completion in 2011.

Work here will see the Hatfield station handed over from the civil contractor to the E&M contractor by July or August.

Testing and commissioning of the Midrand section is expected to be completed in August.

The testing and commissioning of systems for the Centurion section is expected to be completed during the second half of the year.

Trackwork installation for phase two - that is for the full R25,4-billion Gautrain system - should be completed by the end of the year, says Jensen.

Power supply and distribution work for phase two is also expected to be completed before the end of the year, she adds.

"Most of the physical construction and installation work, as well as the bulk of the testing and commissioning on the Gautrain should, thus, be completed by the end of 2010," says Jensen.

As for rolling stock, sub-assembly for the rail cars delivered from Derby, in the UK, to Nigel here in South Africa is expected to be completed by February.

"The last rolling stock four-car unit is expected to be completed for final acceptance testing by June," says Jensen.

Source: Article by Irma Venter appeared in Engineering News on 18 January 2010,