ON JULY 2 Gauteng Premier Mbhazima Shilowa announced that the Bombela Consortium had been chosen as preferred bidder for the Gautrain Rapid Link.

Financial negotiations are expected to take around six months. Bombela is 50% owned by Bombardier, Bouygues and RATP Développement, with the remaining half owned by South African firms Murray & Roberts and Loliwe Companies.

The PPP project covers design and construction of an 80 km 1435mm gauge network linking Johannesburg, Sandton, Tshwane and Johannesburg International Airport. There will be 54 months for design and construction, followed by a 15 year operating concession, after which ownership will be transferred to the provincial government. Opening is planned for 2010, when South Africa is due to host the football World Cup.

Civil works will be undertaken by Bouygues, Murray & Roberts and Loliwe Rail Contractors. There will be three underground and seven surface stations, 20 km of tunnels, 9 km of viaducts and bridges and around 10million m3 of earthworks. Bombardier and Loliwe Rail Express will supply Cityflo 250 train control technology, power supply and distribution systems, communications, fare collection, trackwork and maintenance equipment, as well as undertaking project management, systems integration and commissioning.

Bombardier's Derby plant in the UK will supply Electrostar EMUs, which will be assembled in South Africa by The UCW Partnership, now a Murray & Roberts subsidiary. Operation and maintenance will be the responsibility of RATP Développement and its South African partners through a local operating company.