On 25 May 2009 Jan van Tonder, Engineering Manager of Isithimela Rail Services, and his team started with the construction of the Gautrain track. Ninety-eight meters of track, using 106m³ of concrete, was laid on the first day. He remembers his thoughts on the commencement of such a colossal task: “Just keep going”.
Jan became part of the Gautrain project on 17 September 2007. “An opportunity of this magnitude only comes by once in a lifetime”, he proclaims as he praises the team that persevered the stumble blocks that hit the venture since it started.
Twenty-two kilometres of track had to be laid at a planned rate of 200 meters at a time. Jan’s responsibilities included the provision of construction guidelines, supervising the construction of the track, overseeing the final testing and clearances of the track, as well as addressing all engineering issues pertaining to railway track that emerged during the construction period.
Even though he was not part of the team during initial planning stage of the project, Jan has gained significant experience from being part of the construction phase. When asked about his opinion regarding the future of the Gautrain, Jan recognises the time-saving component provided by the service, stating: “The Gauteng Province has gained extraordinary value that will be realised the day the complete system is available”.
The final 150 meters of track was poured on Thursday 3 March 2011. A grand total of 22.437 kilometres of slab track has been laid, using an overall 16 200m³ of concrete.