DAILY DIGGING OF 11M PUTS GAUTRAIN ON TRACK SO FAR

Posted on Jul 5, 2007 in Media Reports

Construction of the R25 billion Gautrain project is on schedule, according to the Bombela Civils Joint Venture.

Construction of the 10 stations linking Pretoria, Johannesburg, Sandton and OR Tambo airport was on schedule despite a few difficulties, project director Charles-Etienne Perrier said yesterday.

The first phase, linking the airport and Sandton, would be completed by mid-2010 and the final phase would be completed by March 2011. The final phase would link Hatfield in Pretoria to Park Station in central Johannesburg – a 42 minute trip.

A media trip to the Rosebank construction site and Marlboro portal site gave a clear indication that heavy machinery and a large workforce were hard at work. At the Rosebank site, about 300 employees have excavated a shaft 20m down at its deepest areas, where the station will be built underground.

Once construction was completed, Oxford Road will be exactly like it was before, said Perrier.
In November a Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) will dig the tunnel in the soft ground between Rosebank to Park Station. Drilling and explosives are being used to excavate all the other sites.
The TBM, which is currently under construction in Germany, will drill through l0m of ground per day.

The estimated cost for its design, construction, shipping and installation was about R230 million, said deputy project director Jooste Marals. We had to build one specially for this project. At the end of the day were are hoping to sell it, he said. Marais said no other TBM with the correct specifications was available for the time it was needed, so it had to be built.

The Gautrain tunnels would be 6.8m in diameter, with a ground cover of 30m in some places, Marais said.

Drilling and explosives at the Marlboro portal will also excavate l0m of ground per day There are currently two explosions each day, 12 hours apart.

Marlboro portal general foreman Tienie Fraser said the aim was to excavate from l0m each day. With 320m excavated so far; 2.4km were still needed to meet up with the team at the Mushroom Farm Park station in Sandton.

Fraser said the safety record at the site was very good; thanks to a well-oiled and educated team.

The small shrine to Saint Barbara, the patron saint of tunnel workers, at the entrance to the Marlboro portal tunnel adds a European tradition to the Gautrain tunnel. The total project cost is estimated at R25 billion, of which R2L9 billion has been allocated by national and provincial government.

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