OR Tambo International Airport's Gautrain Station to expand

Aerial view showing the Gautrain Station at OR Tambo International Airport, where the platform expansion project will take place, managed by Turner & Townsend.

Recently the Gauteng MEC for Roads and Transport, Dr Ismail Vadi, announced that the Gautrain Station platforms at OR Tambo International Airport would be expanded, enabling passengers to embark or disembark from a full four-car train set, which is currently limited to two cars. This is subject to future operational consideration and implementation.

With due processes finalised, global construction and management consultants Turner & Townsend have been appointed by Bombela Concession Company as project managers to manage this prestigious turnkey expansion project. The duration of the construction project is approximately 12 months with anticipated completion by mid 2016.

Bombela says the expansion of the Gautrain Station platform at the OR Tambo International Station will allow the current horizontal two-car system for the airport line to be increased to at least four rail cars. The airport platform extension works will inevitably increase system capacity and forms part of a medium to long term plan to attract more users onto the Gautrain System.

Noluthando Molao, associate director of Turner & Townsend, says construction itself will be carried out with pre-cast elements and with the establishment of a storage area for materials close by, in order to minimise activity on site. An interesting aspect of the project is that the tower crane to be used on site is one of the biggest in the country, which can lift 32 tons at a radius of 27.8m and can pick up a maximum load of 20.6 tons at a radius of 40m. Initially procured for the Medupi Power Station, the crane will be relocated to the OR Tambo construction site.

“One of the key challenges of the project is that the trains must be fully operational at all times to ensure there is no disruption to the Gautrain service. Coupled with this, the construction is being carried out at approximately 18 metres above ground level, with the access road directly beneath the construction site needing to remain operational as an airport entry point. What makes the construction more challenging is that the crane can only operate from one side of the viaduct structure and safety will be a key priority.

“Furthermore, the close proximity of the City Lodge parking facility right next to the construction site presents another challenge. Noise and dust will be minimised with most of the work being completed off site and the use of acoustic boards, while construction will only be undertaken during specific times as agreed.

“Given the issue of cable theft, the safety and security management systems require that the highest security measures are in place at all times.”

The design and construction in terms of the project incorporates a number of aspects which include extending the existing roof canopy, and – with the use of pre-cast concrete slabs – horizontally increasing either side of the platform as well as extending the platform length by a total of 55 metres. In addition, the concrete parapet wall will be extended and two fire escape towers constructed.

Adds Molao: “Not surprisingly, the contractor tender process had a technical requirement for a grading of nine, which is the highest level according to the Construction Industry Development Board. A BEE Level 3 minimum requirement was also stipulated and the successful contractor, Stefanutti Stocks, will have to achieve 80 percent of the scorecard for technical criteria.

Turner & Townsend has considerable experience in rail and other major transport programmes, having worked on a number of projects with Intersite Asset Investments, a subsidiary of the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA).

The OR Tambo Station platform expansion is one of a series of projects that Turner & Townsend has recently been involved in with Bombela. These include the extension of Gautrain parkades, parking garages and additional parking at Midrand and Rhodesfield Gautrain Stations.

At King Shaka International Airport in KwaZulu-Natal, Turner & Townsend were involved as bid managers as well as programme manager and project managers for the pre- and post contract works for this modern ‘greenfield’ development. They also provided procurement advice and training to the building and civil contractor.

Globally, and with a network of 90 offices, Turner & Townsend has an extensive track record in major projects, and more specifically in the air sector having helped formulate and implement the agreement for the build of British Airways Terminal 5 at Heathrow Airport (the biggest free-standing structure in the UK) and playing an integral role in bringing the project in on time and on budget.

Turner & Townsend has also been involved in providing master planning, procurement strategy and risk management services for the development of the new three-runway system at Hong Kong International Airport and delivering cost estimating services, scheduling and risk management for the expansion of Abu Dhabi International Airport.