Gautrain begins airport link services
Gautrain begins airport link services Jun 2010
Gautrain News Release
Excitement is already buzzing for the citizens of South Africa as they begin their hosting of the 2010 World Cup soccer tournament through June and July, and to kick things off in high gear, services on Africa's first rapid rail transport system were inaugurated this week to whisk passengers at a maximum 160km/hr from the OR Tambo International Airport to the underground station at Sandton in Johannesburg.

Invited dignitaries and guests marked inauguration of the system on Saturday evening (June 5) ahead of the start of commercial services of the trains and the associated feeder bus links starting on Tuesday 8 June. Ribbon cutting events at the Sandton, Marlboro, Rhodesfield and OR Tambo International Airport stations on Saturday evening, symbolised a new legacy in public transport and the delivery of a modern, world-class integrated public transport system for the people of Gauteng. The 15-minute airport link between Sandton and OR Tambo International Airport will bring South Africa in line with major cities in the world with similar systems.

Route and structures on Gautrain

Delivery of the Gautrain is made possible through a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) between the Gauteng Provincial Government and the Bombela Concession Company, a group comprising Murray & Roberts Construction Co and Strategic Partners Group of South Africa with train-systems manaufacturer Bombardier of Canada, construction conglomerate Bouygues of France, and minority shareholder ABSA Bank of South Africa. By the end of May 2010 the certified amount spent on Gautrain totalled R23 972 billion (approximately $US 3 billion).
Although not a 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup project, concessionaire Bombela and public partner Gauteng Provincial Legislature, negotiated an escalation agreement in November 2009 to accelerate construction of the much larger project and have the airport link ready to transport soccer fans between the airport and Sandton. The airport link represents four stations and 20km of the total 80km route and ten stations that links also downtown Johannesburg with the nation's capital Pretoria, and on to a terminus station at the Hatfield business district.

OR Tambo Airport Station

Of the 80km long system, some 15km is underground in bored and mined tunnels with three cut-and-cover stations at Sandton, Rosebank and Johannesburg's main railway Park Station. Elevated and at-grade intrastructure carries the service north from Sandton to Pretoria with intermediate stations at the satellite cities Midrand and Centurion. Stations are serviced also by dedicated feeder and distributor bus services for up to 10km from stations. The full system is anticipated to be completed and services running by mid-2011.
Gautrain was announced at the Gauteng Provincial Legislature in 2000 and in 2002 the Environmental Impact Assessment of the proposed high-speed railway commenced with Public Participation meetings. Construction began in September 2006.

Double track drill+blast running tunnel

The underground alignment of the system begins at the Marlborough portal just south of the Marlborough station. From here, services run 5km to the Sandton underground station in a single-tube, double-track drill+blast tunnel with a dividing wall separating the two tracks.
From Sandton south the configuration changes to a single tube running tunnel with train headways scheduled for services in both directions to run on the one track. Drill+blast excavation takes the underground alignment to the Rosebank cut-and-cover station where a 6.7m diameter Herrenknecht EPBM excavated the 3km length through decomposed granites to emergency shaft ES 2. The TBM started in December 2007 and broke through at ES 2 in January 2009. Drill+blast excavation working north from Park Station and south from ES 2 completed the final 2.5km of single-track alignment, each heading breaking into the ES 1 shaft. In future years and as passenger traffic grows, the second running tunnel capacity will be added to the 5.5km distance from Park Station through Rosebank Station to Sandton Station. Breakthrough of the final drill+blast heading in September 2009 completed the full 15km length of underground excavation for the system.
  • Pic 1

    Single track drill+blast running tunnel

  • Pic 2

    TBM running tunnel

  • Pic 3

    End of the TBM drive

North of the Marlborough Station and beyond the junction of the airport link alignment, the main north-south route, travels in a double track configuration on a series of viaducts and at-grade sections for the 35.5km distance to Hatfield station, overpassing on the way several major traffic intersections and highways. Track laying and installation of the electrical and power systems are progressing on these additional sections of the system towards commencement of services on the full system in mid-2011.

Site of Sandton Station

In the delivery of one of the most complex and largest PPP projects in the world today, the Gauteng Provincial Government has illustrated its commitment in achieving its 2014 priority goals, namely infrastructure development, economic growth, skills strengthening and improving public services.
Gautrain will stimulate economic development in Gauteng, the economic heartbeat of South Africa and the continent. Currently, congestion is a major threat to the development of the province where traffic volumes grow at a rate of 7% per year on the main corridor between Johannesburg and Pretoria. It is envisaged that the freedom of movement that Gautrain will bring, will create a ripple effect where inner cities become rejuvenated and a new urban form starts taking shape in the province.
"Gautrain is a foremost enabler of economic growth that translates into decent work and improved living standards. As can be seen through the construction of Gautrain, Gauteng continues to utilise and promote labour intensive methods in all our public infrastructure development projects to maximise job creation," said Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane.
"Gautrain is long overdue. For too long the people of Gauteng were hoping and dreaming about the day when our public transport systems are on par with the rest of the world. Fortunately for us, that day has come and tonight we celebrate the historic milestones and legendary African spirit that turned that dream into a reality," said Minister of Justice, Jeff Radebe.


Add your comment

Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts and comments. You share in the wider tunnelling community, so please keep your comments smart and civil. Don't attack other readers personally, and keep your language professional.
In case of an error submitting Feedback, copy and send the text to
Name :

Date :

Email :

Phone No :

   Security Image Refresh
Enter the security code :
No spaces, case-sensitive