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Old April 15th, 2008, 02:17 PM   #81
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African city building 80km underground metro from scratch in 5 years

Current progress on the 80km / 50mi multi-billion dollar over/underground Gautrain being built from scratch in the Gauteng conurbation containing around 9 million citizens. This new rail system is designed to extend the existing mass transit system to middle and upperclass areas, link multiple CBDs to a major international airport and ultimately take some load off the large and overburdened freeway system.

In addition to the rail system, authorities are strongly encouraging new high density clusters around the new stations. 20-40 storey+ buildings etc. Existing expensive low density suburbs between major CBDs of Johannesburg and Sandton are already starting to build up with large scale commercial and apartment districts.


1. Underground section

Excavation of the single-track rail tunnel towards the north has reached approximately 280 metres from the tunnel portal.

Construction of the 25m deep station box is making good progress. Lateral support waler beams are currently being installed in tandem with bulk excavation. These waler beams, braced with a series of lateral struts, provide temporary support the perimeter walls during station box excavation. Construction of the multi-story parkade foundation has also started.

The 27 metre deep portal provides an access shaft to tunnelling activities below. A massive gantry crane is visible above the portal. This crane is used to hoist the rock excavated from the tunnel and load it into dump trucks. The crane will also lift the necessary construction equipment in and out of the portal below.

The single-track rail tunnel between Park Station and Sandton Station will feature seven emergency access shafts. These shafts will provide emergency services personnel access to the tunnels below. At the bases of these shafts there will be safe havens where passengers can gather in case of an emergency.

The Land required for Emergency Shaft 1 in Hillbrow is in the process of being expropriated. Site establishment and shaft excavation will start soon.


At Shaft E2, excavation depth reached nearly 38 metres and 27 metres of shaft lining was completed. Once the shaft reaches its final depth, an adit linking the bottom of the shaft to the tunnel alignment will be excavated, from where two rail tunnel sections will be excavated. The one tunnel will head south towards Park Station, while the other tunnel will head north towards Rosebank Station.

Construction of the shaft collar has been completed and shaft excavation will commence in early April.

Automated tunnel excavation is now underway deep below Oxford Road. The giant Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) started boring in January.

This moving factory uses latest international technology to bore a 3km section of the tunnel from Rosebank Station southwards. The TBM has been purpose-built to deal with the difficult geological conditions along this section of the route. The remainder of the single-track rail tunnel towards Park Station will be excavated using conventional drilling and blasting methods.

The TBM, named Imbokodo, installs pre-cast concrete tunnel lining segments behind it as it moves forward. It leaves behind a watertight and smooth lining to the 6.8m diameter tunnel. The TBM has already installed approximately 211 tunnel lining segments which equates to a distance of almost 325 metres of tunnel bored.

With excavation of the 180 metre long, 25 metre deep station box complete, as well as the station base slab, excavation of the last part of northern cut & cover section continued. Construction of the station external walls within the station box has commenced.

North of the station box, tunnelling towards Sandton continued from the northern drill & blast shaft, with approximately 195 metres excavated by the end of March.

Tunnelling towards Sandton – the only section of tunnelling being excavated from this shaft - has progressed to approximately 240 metres. Excavation of the safe haven chamber is progressing simultaneously.

A head house structure is visible above the shaft, which houses the overhead gantry crane. It is used for hoisting excavated rock and lowering and lifting materials and equipment. The crane is clad with sound absorbing panels to limit noise created by construction work. This is a temporary structure, which will be removed once tunnelling operations are completed.

Excavation of the three level parking basement is complete and construction of the parkade foundations has commenced.

Construction of the cavern for the underground station, which is being excavated via the southern construction shaft, is on track and tunnelling from the south shaft towards Rosebank is also making good progress. The “top headings” of both of these have reached approximately 40 metres in each direction.

Excavation of the north shaft reached the third waler beam level, where hard rock has now been encountered. Waler beam and strut installation continued. These waler beams, braced with a series of lateral struts, provide temporary support the perimeter walls during excavation.

Two sets of tunnels are being excavated towards Sandton. These single and double track tunnels have reached 472 metres and 232 metres respectively. The double tunnel towards Marlboro Portal reached approximately 510 metres. Later this year, the tunnel being excavated from Mushroom Farm Park will meet with the tunnel being excavated from Marlboro Portal to form one, continuous tunnel.

Mushroom Farm Park is a temporary shaft, used to provide access for tunnel construction. The community park will be fully reinstated once construction operations are complete.

Excavation of the double track tunnel towards Mushroom Farm Park is now approaching
1 700 metres from the portal. Inside the tunnel, the final lining is being applied to the tunnel walls, construction of the floor slab to support the railway tracks is in progress, concrete walkways are being installed and construction of the dividing wall – separating the two sets of tracks – is about to commence.

The portal at Marlboro is the point where the tunnel “daylights”. It seperates the underground and surface sections of the route.

2. Surface alignment

A continuous long-span elevated rail bridge is called a viaduct. Several viaducts are being built to cross rivers and roads on Gautrain’s route. The precast concrete deck segments for these viaducts are being manufactured at the precast yard.

Construction of support piers and northern abutments for Viaducts 1A and 11 over the Jukskei River and East Bank Road in Alexander are complete and work is in progress on the southern abutments. Deck erection will commence during the first half of this year.

Earthworks, retaining walls and associated drainage structures are in progress between the Marlboro Portal and the N3 Crossing, including in the area of the Marlboro Station, where station construction will commence later this year.

Construction of a series of underpasses, where the two pairs of railway lines cross below the N3 highway alongside the Marlboro Road bridge, continues.

B) NORTHERN SECTION (Depot to Hatfield Station)

Construction of this section of the route between the N3 crossing and the Depot is well advanced, with erection of the precast M-beams, which form the deck of Viaduct 2 over Modderfontein Spruit, now complete.

At the Train Depot, Gautrain’s 24 train sets will be maintained, serviced cleaned, and securely stabled overnight. The adjacent Bus Depot will perform a similar function for Gautrain’s dedicated fleet of 150 luxury buses. Construction of these facillities is well advanced, with the Bus Depot administration building already complete and the Train Depot offices and maintenance workshops targeted for completion within the next few months.

The welding of rails into 216 metre long lengths has commenced at the temporary flash butt welding yard that has been set up adjacent to the Train Depot. This facility uses high tech rail welding methods which eliminate the need for jointed gaps between rail lengths. The laying of trackwork for the stabling sidings at the train depot will commence shortly.

The precast yard – also temporarily located at the Depot - is equipped with twin concrete batching plants and several overhead gantries and tower cranes that are required to manufacture a variety of precast concrete elements. These include viaduct segments, bridge beams and parapets, tunnel walkway sections and noise barriers.. From here, precast elements are transported to the various construction sites as needed. It is currently the largest precast facility in Africa.

Construction is now well underway in the vicinity of the Midrand Station and continuing towards Centurion.

A continuous long-span elevated rail bridge is called a viaduct. Construction of Viaduct 3 over Allandale Road is making good progress, with ten of the thirteen deck spans now erected. Deck segments are erected using massive purpose-built launching girders.
These cranes are launched across the supporting piers to rapidly assemble the precast deck segments. Segments are then glued and stressed together to form the deck spans. This international bridge deck assembly method enables construction to proceed with minimal disruption to existing infrastructure and traffic below. There are two of these underslung launching girders deployed on the project.

At Viaduct 4, which crosses over Rietspruit and Olifantsfontein Road South, the foundations are now complete and construction of the supporting piers and abutments is in progress.

Construction of a number of smaller road-over-rail bridges in this area continues, including at Ridge Road, West Road, New Road and George Road.

Viaduct 5 carries the elevated alignment through Centurion. It stretches over the John Vorster Interchange crossing the N1 in the south and then continues through Centurion to the Jean Avenue Interchange crossing the Ben Schoeman highway in the north. The sinking of deep foundation shafts for the viaducts at both of these interchanges continues, and construction of the supporting piers has commenced at the Jean Avenue Viaduct.

Several temporary steel pedestrian bridges have been erected over the N14 highway at the Jean Avenue interchange and across the N1 at John Vorster interchange to provide construction workers safe access across these busy highways.

Within Centurion itself, foundation construction – comprising excavation, preloading, grouting and piling – is underway at many of the viaduct pier locations, including those which will support the elevated platforms of Centurion Station. This station will be situated on the northern side of West Steet close to Centurion Lake. Utility diversions throughout the Centurion area are ongoing.

Construction of an underpass where the Gautrain rail track will cross underneath the Ben Schoeman to the south of Salvokop is in progress.

Preparations are underway to start with foundation construction of Viaduct 7, which will cross over Nelson Mandela Boulevard at the entrance to the city.

At Pretoria Station, the existing staff parking area has now been vacated to enable construction of the Gautrain Station to proceed.

Between Pretoria and Hatfield a number of bridges crossing the existing railway line require to be widened to accommodate the adjacent Gautrain tracks. One such bridge is at Lynnwood Road, where widening of the abutments is currently underway.

Piling and foundation construction is in progress for a new bridge which will cross the railway lines at Ridge Road, to replace the existing Willow Road bridge, which is to be demolished. Work has also started on a further new bridge where Grosvenor Road will be extended across the tracks immediately adjacent to the new Hatfield Station.

Bulk excavation for the parkade structure at the Hatfield Station and the diversion of the Metrorail alignment in that area is substantially complete. Foundation construction and concrete works will commence shortly.


3. Airport Link (Marlboro Station to OR Tambo International Airport)

At Viaduct 13 over Centenary Way in Modderfontein, seven of the ten spans have now been erected, with traffic flow continuing below without disruption.

A short distance to the east, foundation construction has commenced at Viaduct 14, which will span over Zuurfontein Road and the adjacent existing railway line.

Several other bridges and culverts are also currently being built along this section of the route.

By far the longest viaduct on the east-west section of the route is the 1.5 km long Viaduct 15, which will carry the double track railway line over the R21/R24 road network to the elevated OR Tambo International Airport Station. The majority of the 41 foundations have been completed and construction of the supporting piers is well advanced.

Construction of the station concourse is in progress and is visible above the elevated drop-off road. This is immediately adjacent to the new Central Terminal Building which is currently under construction at the airport.

Construction started at the end of September 2006. Gautrain will be completed in two phases:

1. The first phase has a duration of 45 months. It includes the 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.
2. The second phase, being constructed concurrently, will be completed in 54 months, towards 2011. It includes the remainder of the rail network and stations linking Sandton to Park Station in Johannesburg and the route from Midrand to Hatfield.

Toll-free call centre: 0800-GAUTRAIN (0800-42887246). The call centre is operational weekdays between 6am and 9pm with an answering system after-hours.

Communities are reminded that regular Community Liaison Forums are held in affected areas. These afford residents the opportunity to voice their concerns and have their questions answered by Gautrain officials who are present at these meetings.

Courtesy www.gautrain.co.za
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Old April 15th, 2008, 11:49 PM   #82
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It amazes me that any city would develop without a subway. Subways and light rail are indictations of the intellegence of the region.
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Old April 16th, 2008, 12:04 AM   #83
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Originally Posted by philadweller View Post
It amazes me that any city would develop without a subway. Subways and light rail are indictations of the intellegence of the region.
What does that say about the intelligence of most American cities then?

This looks like a very impressive development. Can someone post a route map?
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Old April 16th, 2008, 12:52 AM   #84
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technically most major American cities did develop extensive streetcar systems. It wasn't until the 50's and 60's that they were dismantled...
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Old April 16th, 2008, 12:35 PM   #85
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Johannesburg had an extensive inner urban tran network until the 60s when it was dismantled. Rising wealth led to massive suburbanisation and car usage as it did in much the rest of the world.

As previously stated, there already is extensive heavy rail between industrial areas, working class areas and the main CBDs of Germiston and Johannesburg. However the low density suburbs and decentralised commercial nodes stretching 50km between the major CBDs of Johannesburg and Pretoria had no rail until now.

Also the rock underneath these cities is extremely tough to tunnel through. Hard stone with hundreds of faults making it very expensive.
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Old April 16th, 2008, 02:00 PM   #86
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Old April 16th, 2008, 02:01 PM   #87
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Viaducts and cut&covers:


Precast yard:

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Old April 16th, 2008, 06:15 PM   #88
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They are really picking up speed with this project now. I drive from Centurion to Pretoria CBD every day - the construction is happening next to the highway all the way. Bridges going up, reserves being prepared, cranes everywhere. Alas, it causes traffic delays as well.
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Old April 16th, 2008, 06:17 PM   #89
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Cut and cover system: easy, cheap and fast

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Old April 16th, 2008, 06:48 PM   #90
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Originally Posted by GENIUS LOCI View Post
Cut and cover system: easy, cheap and fast

Also 15km of new bored tunnels at up to 100metres below!

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Old April 17th, 2008, 06:48 AM   #91
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i heard the soweto monorail project was put on hold - is that still not going to happen?

also for those who didn't know all the major cities have metrorail

pic from wikipedia:

infro from wikipedia:
Metrorail is the commuter rail service in the major urban areas of South Africa. Metrorail is the operational arm of the South African Rail Commuter Corporation (SARCC), a State-owned enterprise which holds custodianship of all commuter and passenger rail assets such as land in and around stations, infrastructure and rolling stock in the major urban areas of South Africa. The Metrorail system consists of 471 stations, 2228km of track, and carries an average of 1.7 million passengers per weekday.
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Old April 17th, 2008, 06:52 AM   #92
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some good pics here of the metrorail http://www.sarcc.co.za/Gallery.html

anyway the gautrain looks good - hope to see it in person someday
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Old April 17th, 2008, 07:00 AM   #93
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Wow, great development. Hope other african cities will follow. Perhaps Lagos?
Isaiah 28:2
Behold, the Lord hath a mighty and strong one, which as a tempest of hail and a destroying storm, as a flood of mighty waters overflowing, shall cast down to the earth with the hand.

Matthew 7:25
And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.
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Old April 26th, 2008, 10:28 AM   #94
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That's simply amazing, 80km sounds like a very ambitious target for such short term.

Financing is coming primarily from the Federal, State/Province or Municipal budget?
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Old April 26th, 2008, 01:53 PM   #95
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nice project...
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Old April 26th, 2008, 02:13 PM   #96
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It is a bit of a fallacy to post that it is an 80km long metro. It's 80km long and has 10 stations on it - this isn't technically a metro as the station spacing is far too wide. It's a rapid rail link, yes, but it's not a metro. There are numerous examples of similar routes around the world, take the airport shuttle between FFM and its airport in Germany - 12km away and takes 12 minutes by ICE - an average speed of 100km/h.

The frequency of trains is impressive though. According to the website the minimum frequency will be 6 trains per hour to Pretoria from Park Station which is good.

But again, as I've said before. This is a project for the rich as it only runs through affluent areas of the city and before the next poster decides to tell me that the South at least has metrorail, I already know this, but the service is shonky and most Saffers will admit that. I'm glad that JHB is finally investing in PT and I'm excited to see the project complete all the same.
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Old April 26th, 2008, 02:37 PM   #97
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5 years for this project is pretty fast btw.
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Old April 26th, 2008, 03:19 PM   #98
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impressive project!!
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Old April 26th, 2008, 06:44 PM   #99
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Excellent news! Great to see more parts of the world embracing underground metros
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Old April 27th, 2008, 05:04 AM   #100
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Gautrain is more of a suburban rail line than a local metro subway isn't it?
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