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​The Gautrain will steam into Park Station in April, completing the rapid rail route and giving a seamless ride from inner city Joburg to Pretoria.
THE light at the end of the Gautrain tunnel is getting brighter – the Gauteng MEC for transport, Ismail Vadi, announced that the final link to Park Station in the inner city is expected to open in April.

MEC Ismail VadiMEC Ismail Vadi: Safety not compromisedVadi was speaking at a state of the province briefing at the Gauteng Legislature on 28 February. He could not confirm the exact date that the route would open as certification from the railway safety regulatory authority still needed to be completed.

Delays to the opening of this leg of the line were caused by water seepage into the tunnel between Rosebank Station and Park Station. The water came from a natural underground spring near to The Wilds and Roedean School, in Houghton.

Vadi said at a news conference on 28 July 2011: “Although safety has not been compromised, the Gauteng Province and Bombela are concerned about the impact of water ingress above the agreed-upon levels on the long-term viability and integrity of the infrastructure.”

The Bombela Concession Company was responsible for resolving the problem. It had to submit a tunnel works plan on extra engineering requirements needed to fix the problem, and was responsible for covering the costs of these remedial actions.

Re-grouting the tunnel was identified as the best solution, and involved drilling small holes through the floor of the tunnel and injecting grout into the layers of rock to reduce the permeability of the rocks. It was hoped that by doing this, the water seepage would decrease dramatically.

Train service
There have been other problems on the train and bus service since the Pretoria to Rosebank route opened on 2 August last year. Electrical faults on the train and illegal bus driver strikes were among the disruptions, but Gautrain management and Bombela worked to overcome these and even launched an SMS alert service to keep passengers abreast of emergencies.

Park Station in the Joburg CBDPark Station in the Joburg CBDTo receive these alerts, passengers can SMS the world “alert” to 32693. It costs R1 to subscribe but is free thereafter.

Overcoming the obstacles and being able to open the final leg of the line will go a long way in reassuring Gautrain customers of the service’s reliability, and Vadi insisted at the briefing that the service provided an efficient travel alternative for Gauteng residents.

Construction started in 2006, and was arranged to be completed in two phases. The first phase was planned to take 45 months but was completed three weeks ahead of schedule, on 8 June 2010.

It covered the airport and commuter links; with the airport link joining Sandton with OR Tambo International Airport, and the commuter facility connecting Sandton Station with Rhodesfield, with a stop at the Marlboro base.

The second phase included the remainder of the rail network and stations linking Sandton to Park Station and the route from Midrand to Hatfield, in Pretoria. All stations and routes, from Pretoria to Sandton, are now open, with the exception of the Park Station leg.

For more information, visit the Gautrain website.

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