Posted on Feb 29, 2008 in Construction Update - 2008, Construction Updates


1. Underground section


Excavation of the single-track rail tunnel towards Rosebank Station has reached approximately 250 metres from the tunnel portal. 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.

Construction of the 25m deep station box is making good progress. Lateral support beams are currently being installed in tandem with bulk excavation. These beams, braced with a series of lateral struts to support the perimeter walls during station box excavation.


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. This shaft had been excavated to a depth of approximately 38 metres from the surface by the end of the month and shaft lining is in progress.

Once the shaft reaches its final depth, two rail tunnel sections will be excavated below. The one tunnel will head south towards Park Station, while the other tunnel will head north towards Rosebank Station.


The area is being prepared for excavation of this emergency shaft, which will start next month.


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 60 tunnel lining segments which equates to a distance of almost 100 metres of tunnel bored to date.

Excavation of the 500m long station box has reached its final depth of 25m. Lateral support braces have been installed to support the perimeter walls during station box excavation. Construction of the station walls within the station box has commenced.

North of the station box, excavation of the single-track rail tunnel towards Sandton has reached approximately 160 metres.


Tunnelling towards Sandton – the only section of tunnelling being excavated from this shaft – has progressed approximately 150 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.


Two construction shafts – nearly 50m and 45m deep each – are being excavated at both ends of the Sandton Station construction site.

The southern shaft is now approximately 42 metres deep. Tunnelling towards the south from this shaft has commenced. Nearly 22 metres of the upper portion of the tunnel towards the south has been excavated by the end of February. The top heading of the cavern section linking the south and north shafts have progressed to approximately 25 metres.

Excavation of the northern shaft continued, with lateral support beam construction and strut installation in progress. No tunnelling takes place from the north shaft, which will form an impressive entrance atrium to the station and access to the platforms below.

Excavation of the adjacent three level parking basement is complete and the following civil works will commence shortly.


Excavation of two sets of tunnels towards Sandton continued, with the single and  double track tunnels progressing to approximately 410 metres and 163 metres respectively by the end of the month.  The double tunnel towards Marlboro reached approximately 425 metres.

This 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 has progressed to 1525 metres. Tunnel lining; invert slab (on which the rail tracks will be laid) construction and installation of precast walkway sections are ongoing.

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

2. Surface alignment


Construction of all the piers pillars and the southern abutment for Viaducts 1A and 11 over the Jukskei River and East Bank Road in Alexander is complete and earthworks at the northern abutment are in progress. The precast deck segments for these viaducts are currently being manufactured at the precast yard, ahead of deck erection, which  will commence in the first half of 2008. Viaducts are continuous long-span bridges, which carry the elevated sections of the Gautrain railway line and comprise a cumulative length of approximately 10.5 km of the 80 km  route.

Bulk earthworks, retaining structures and drainage and are underway in the Marlboro area and at the Marlboro Station site, where the footprint of the land that will accommodate the station infrastructure and parking is clearly visible immediately adjacent to Alexander and the Marlboro Drive interchange. .

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

Temporary traffic diversions are in place to accommodate the complex process of constructing the cut and cover structures below the main carriageway and adjacent access ramps without affecting traffic flow.

Immediately to the north of the N3, the route splits in two, with one pair of tracks continuing towards Pretoria in the north and the other pair towards OR Tambo in the east.

B) NORTHERN SECTION (Depot to Hatfield Station)


Construction along this section of the route is well advanced, with earthworks, bridge construction, drainage structures and fencing in progress.

The piers pillars and abutments at Viaduct 2 over Modderfontein Spruit are nearly completed. Deck erection will start soon using large capacity mobile cranes.


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 in progress.

The precast yard – established on the site of the future bus maintenance depot –  is equipped with twin concrete batching plants and several overhead gantries and tower cranes required  to manufacture a variety of precast concrete elements. These include viaduct segments, bridge beams and parapets. 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. This section includes a number of bridges and two major viaducts – Viaduct 3 over Allandale Road and Viaduct 4 over Rietspruit and Olifantsfontein Road South.

Construction of Viaduct 3 over Allandale Road is making good progress, with seven of the 13 deck spans now erected. Deck segments are erected using massive purpose-built launching girders. These cranes are launched across the supporting pillars 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, which have been named “ Hakuna” and “Matata” respectively.

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


Viaduct 5 carries the elevated alignment through Centurion. It stretches over the John Vorster Interchange crossing the N1 in the south. This viaduct 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 viaduct at both of these interchanges continues, and construction of pillars has commenced near Jean Avenue and in Centurion.

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 the relocation of utilities such as storm water, electricity and telecommunication cables are taking place in order to give construction workers access to the land earmarked for Gautrain’s rail network. Geotechnical investigations are being carried out to test the rock quality before construction can start.


Construction of an underpass near Salvokop is in progress. The Gautrain rail track will cross underneath the Ben Schoeman highway at this point. Traffic diversions are in place.

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

Bridges and underpasses are also in progress on the route towards Hatfield. This includes the construction of a Gautrain rail bridge over Ridge Road and a Lynwood Road underpass.

The erection of a concrete batching plant that will produce concrete for construction activities is in process.


Hoardings have been erected at various locations where construction work will take place along the existing Metrorail line between Pretoria and Hatfield. The Gautrain railway line will run immediately adjacent to the existing lines.

Alteration work to accommodate the Gautrain rail line at the Rissik Street Station has started. A section of existing railway siding has been removed and the southern section of the station will be demolished, including the southern elevator shaft and the western footbridge. The northern half of the station will be completely preserved for its heritage value.

Bulk excavation for the parkade structure and the diversion of the Metrorail alignment at the Hatfield Station continues.


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

At Viaduct 13 over Centenary Way in Modderfontein, all pillars have been completed. Assembly of three of the ten deck spans have been completed.  The second of the two massive launching girders – named “Matata” – is currently deployed at this viaduct.

Preparations are underway to start with the construction of Viaduct 14 over Zuurfontein Road.


The construction of pillars to support Viaduct 15 is underway. This viaduct will carry the double track railway line over the R21/R24 road network to the elevated OR Tambo International Airport Station. Viaducat 15 wil be 1.5 km long.

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.

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