UK-based ASL Safety & Security has been awarded a contract for the supply of IP-based BS 5839-8-compliant long-line public address and voice alarm equipment for the £2bn Gautrain Rapid Rail project in South Africa. The contract includes provision of a complete PA/VA solution including ASL’s customer information system and iVENCS operator user interface.

Gautrain is a 150km mass-rapid-transit railway system that is currently under construction by the Bombela Concession company, which will link Johannesburg, Pretoria and the newly-remodelled OR Tambo International Airport (ORTIA). ASL’s PA/VA solutions will be used at ten stations including three underground locations and seven stations at grade or elevated level. A significant proportion of the line will be operational by the summer of 2010 and will serve as a link to FIFA 2010 World Cup stadia.

ASL’s 2U VIPA-powered ViPET product provides a VoIP bridge for Gautrain, allowing each of the autonomously functioning VAR / V400 voice alarm systems at line stations to function as a single long-line PA system. The same ViPET unit also receives updated train-running data, providing control and monitoring of the Polycomp passenger information displays. Additionally, the ViPET units will report on faults and provide outputs to a networked SCADA system at the operations centre located in the Johannesburg area of Midrand, where management also oversees power, signalling and security surveillance.

Richard Lack, ASL’s director of sales and marketing, said: “This is the first major PA/VA project in South Africa that will be carried out to BS 5839 Part 8. ASL is now involved with iconic infrastructure projects across five continents and is pleased to be working in partnership with Bombardier to meet the demanding rack-build, delivery and commissioning timescales associated with this project.”

Gautrain is currently in a testing and commissioning phase with trains running on a stretch of track between Sandton and ORTIA. Sandton, an underground station bordering Nelson Mandela Square, is notable for its exceptional depth of 69m, which is equivalent to nine building storeys. Here passengers will be able to choose between a commuter or an airport-bound service. The overall aim of the Gautrain initiative is to relieve congestion in the Johannesburg-Pretoria corridor and offer a viable alternative to road transport.

Construction of the line and associated systems is being undertaken by the Bombela Concession company, which has formed a public-private partnership with the Gauteng Provincial Government to build and operate the Gautrain. A fleet of 96 Electrostar vehicles is being provided by Bombardier. The vehicles are based on those already operating successfully in the UK. The Electrostars will be manufactured at Bombardier’s works in Derby with final assembly taking place at the city of Nigel, in East Rand.

With speeds of up to 160km/hr, a train trip between Johannesburg and Pretoria will take approximately 40min. Although railways in South Africa use the 1,067mm (3ft 6in) Cape gauge, Gautrain will be built to the standard gauge of 1,435mm (4ft 8.5in), which will accommodate the client’s maximum speed requirements.