Gautrain ready for 2010

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The Gautrain link from the airport to Sandton and the operations centre will be ready in time for the 2010 World Cup, says the Gauteng government.

This is despite previous comments by Gauteng premier Nomvula Mokonyane that the train was not a World Cup project and not scheduled to be completed in time for the major soccer tournament.

However, the City of Johannesburg says construction on the Gautrain and its Operational Control Centre (OCC), in Midrand, will be ready in time for the World Cup. While the centre was first unveiled in November, where drivers were trained through a simulator, like the rest of the project, the centre was yet to be completed.

Construction company Bombela recently received R288 million from both the provincial and national governments to have the route between the airport and Sandton and the OCC complete by 27 May.

The OCC will be used for several functions, including the monitoring and control of the continuous supply of power throughout the Gautrain network. Signalling, telecommunications, fare collection, traction power and the CCTV camera network will all be managed from the centre.

Information systems will also be used to help achieve the seamless movement of all 24 Gautrain rail cars and 125 feeder buses. The centre will also be a communication system, which will help monitor safety, security and train punctuality.

Remote monitoring and control of the train will also be enabled to allow controllers to remotely stop a train in case the driver becomes incapacitated.

Rising costs

While costs have increased dramatically since the project was first announced, the provincial government says this was mainly due to construction, labour disputes and inflation.

In 2002, the budget for the project was R7 billion, but costs have escalated to over R26 billion. Last year, National Treasury allocated an additional R144 million to the Gautrain. The Gauteng provincial government later also allocated an additional R300 million to complete the construction of the train.

The train will have an on-board automatic train protection system. The system is a safety-critical application that continuously supervises the movement of the train. Features include speed warnings to the driver, notices of approaching stop signals, or changes to the static speed profile.

Real-time train information, timetables, fares and destinations of trains and buses will be displayed on electronic boards at the stations. Six trains will travel per hour per direction, during peak times.

All buses will be tracked by satellite and will travel along 36 routes starting from the stations.

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