South African Railway Deploys ASL PA System Ahead of World Cup

UK-based ASL Safety & Security won a contract for the supply of IP-based long-line public address and voice alarm equipment for the roughly US$3 billion 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 150-kilometer mass rapid transit railway system that is currently under construction by the Bombela Concession Company which will link Johannesburg, Pretoria and the newly-remodeled OR Tambo International Airport (ORTIA). ASL's PA/VA solutions will be used at 10 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 World Cup football pitches.

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

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 69 meters, which is equivalent to nine building floors. Here passengers will be able to choose between a commuter or 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 U.K. 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 160 km per hour, a train trip between Johannesburg and Pretoria will take approximately 40 minutes. Although railways in South Africa use the 1,067 mm Cape gauge, Gautrain will be built to standard 1,435 mm which will accommodate the client's maximum speed requirements.

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