Atkins delivered three major design packages for the Gautrain in South Africa - the continent’s first high speed rail system. The 80km of railway links Johannesburg, Pretoria, Sandton and OR Tambo International Airport. We carried out the preliminary design work in 2005 ahead of the start of construction in 2006.
Since then our teams have been responsible for permanent way and route alignment and delivered designs for 15km of underground tunnels, three underground stations and seven emergency shafts. Our innovative low carbon cooling system alleviated the need to air condition public spaces within the underground stations, representing a carbon emissions saving of 9,200 tonnes per annum. Atkins’ multidisciplinary approach helped us overcome the challenges presented by creating large underground station structures and tunnels and produce cost effective solutions for our client.
Sandton station is a particularly remarkable technical achievement. Among other things, instead of excavating 160,000m3 of rock, we proposed an alternate solution that required less than half the original quantity to be excavated, shaving eight months off the programme schedule.
We worked with the Bombela Civils Joint Venture to complete this first phase, which runs between OR Tambo International Airport and Johannesburg, and was open for business by the opening match of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. It was the first ever rail link to the airport and the journey to and from OR Tambo now takes no more than 15 minutes.