Motherwell Passenger Rail a potential boost for city

THE Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa’s (PRASA) initiative to have the Motherwell Passenger Rail Corridor (MPRC) up and running, is currently in process as the detailed design was completed in July this year.

According to GIBB Engineering and Architecture’s project manager, Nico Pienaar, the base design was completed in November 2015, with the preliminary design following in October 2016 and the detail design in July this year. Once the detail design is approved, the construction tender will be released.

The MPRC will be a major benefit for Port Elizabeth and could lead to other important developments.

Pienaar added, “The developments will include the upgrading of the railway station in the area to include an intermodal hub and retail facilities upon completion.”

The MPRC is one of PRASA’s largest rail projects, which was designed by GIBB Engineering and Architecture. “A project of this magnitude has major economic impact and carries multiple benefits, including the generation of economic activity within the region, with knock-on effects potentially creating many employment opportunities and economic impacts,” Pienaar said.

In 2000, PRASA undertook the basic planning of the MPRC in Port Elizabeth.

However, subsequent developments in land-use development and rail technology meant that the planning required an update.

This was completed by GIBB in 2014, who were then appointed by PRASA to carry out the design of the proposed MPRC and stations.

The department of environmental affairs successfully accepted the final scoping report in July.

However, the signing of the MOU between PRASA and the Nelson Mandela Metro Municipality is still in process.

“The MPRC project consists of infrastructure including 14.7km of ballasted railway track, of which 7.14km is a double line. A further five rail crossovers, 13 turnout sets, 2.3km of concrete railway track structure and the required bulk earth works and railway design layer works,” Pienaar said.

The project also incorporates 10 bridge structures and three railway station buildings, including mechanical and electrical services, precincts, intermodal facilities and retail facilities.

A service road along the railway alignment and a 3m high boundary wall to protect both PRASA assets and public safety are all included in the project. This is set in place to prevent people from crossing the railway lines.

“Integrating all of these various aspects was one of the greatest challenges presented by the project.

“Allowing for pedestrian movement across the railway corridor was a key consideration. All road rail bridges have therefore been designed to include a 2m wide, barrier protected walkway on each side of the bridge,” said Pienaar.

In addition, each of the three stations includes a street-to-street concourse bridge, which will allow people to cross over the bridges and allow controlled access to the station platforms.

Moreover, the railway stations are designed to allow connectivity between the train services and other transport services.

The MPRC railway line ties off from the existing Transnet railway line just before Aloes Station and then runs to the left into Motherwell up to the four railway staging lines at the end station, Station 4.

This station will be used for the overnight staging of the trains for departure to Port Elizabeth station in the morning.

Rail travel also offers significant time savings due to the avoidance of traffic congestion and the regular travel schedule of trains.

Pienaar said, “Travelling by train is more energy efficient than both road and motor vehicle transportation modes. In addition, converting road users to rail users will lead to a proportional reduction in road accidents, which will have a major economic cost reduction.

“It will also reduce road-based carbon emissions.”

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