The Gautrain rapid-rail link project is around 60% complete, says Gautrain Management Agency CEO Jack van der Merwe.


The first phase is still scheduled to be up and running by the end of June next year, although it may be accelerated to wrap in May, in time for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The decision on this is still pending.


The initial phase encompasses the rail network between the OR Tambo International Airport and Sandton, and includes the stations at OR Tambo, Rhodesfield, Marlboro and Sandton, together with the depot and operations control centre located near Allandale road, in Midrand.

The second phase, being constructed concurrently, will be completed in 54 months, towards 2011.

This phase includes the remainder of the rail network linking Sandton and Park station in Johannesburg, and the route from Midrand to Hatfield, in Pretoria.

Van der Merwe says the R25-billion project is running largely according to schedule.

"We are happy with the progress at the moment."

Five of the 24 train sets of four wagons each have been completed, and are standing at the depot, he adds.

One train set is undergoing testing on the track, while the others are facing static testing.

Fifteen of the 96 Gautrain Electrostar rail cars are being manufactured in the UK, at rolling stock manufacturer Bombardier's production site in Derby, while the body shells and some of the major components for the remaining 81 lightweight aluminium car bodies are being shipped in flat packs from Derby to the Union Carriage & Wagon Partnership, in Nigel, for final assembly.

"We have reached full production at Nigel," says Van der Merwe. "We are producing two wagons a week now, and we should be finished with all the trains by the end of August."

The Gautrain project is being constructed for the Gauteng provincial govnerment by the Bombela consortium, consisting of international partners Bombardier and Bouygues Travaux Publics, with Murray & Roberts, black economic-empowerment company the Strategic Partners Group, the J&J Group, as well as Absa Bank the local stakeholders.

The consortium will also operate the rail system for a 15-year period.

Source: Engineering News []