The Cape Town railway station complex, which was built in 1961 and covers between 25 and 35 city blocks, is under- going a multibillion-rand redevelopment.
Property management company Intersite regional manager Lindelo Matya says: “The first phase of the multi-phased development, which has already quietly started behind the scenes, will be completed by December 2009 in preparation for 2010 FIFA World Cup.” Metrorail, which estimates that Cape Town station will attract close to 150 000 commuters during the World Cup has allocated close to R418-million for the first phase of refurbishment.
The initial phases, known as Cape Town Station 2010 Projects, will transform the station into a retail and entertainment centre by 2010 and consist of alterations and additions incorporating remedial works. Matya says: “The reimaging to be done at Cape Town station ahead of the 2010 World Cup would be the first phase and should give a fair idea of what the station could look like for the next 50 years.”
The subsequent phases of refurbishment and revitalisation of the station is planned to continue after 2010. The subsequent phases of refurbishment will investigate the long-term development and expansion of the primary transport exchange centre for the city of Cape Town. Metrorail will replace its entire fleet over 15 years as part of the subsequent phases. Matya says: “The proposal to sink the railway system below ground level between Cape Town, Woodstock and Esplanade stations is still being investigated.”
Intersite, commuter transport operator Metrorail and commuter rail services provider Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa), along with other key stakeholders, including local municipality City of Cape Town, community-based organisation Central City Partnership and the provincial government, are involved in the initiative to revitalise the station.
Ariya Projects was appointed as part of a consortium of established project management companies to head a multidisciplinary team on this project. The team includes architects, engineers, town planners, and heritage consul- tants, besides others. The team will be involved in the short- and long-term development projects.
The first phase of the project involves the upgrade of the shops and informal trading areas and the station deck precinct. New features include a transport museum, an art gallery, a travel agency, a bureau de change, an Internet café, a local crafters’ market, convenience stores, restaurants, fast-food outlets, a small conference venue and medical services.
Construction on underground services and basic infrastructure began in 2007, while alterations to the existing station buildings began in September last year. The project aims to change the station into a vibrant public transport centre that will renew confidence in passenger rail and draw people back to public transport. It also aims to change the Cape Town central business district, in the hope that it will be a catalyst for further renewal and investment in the city. “Transport and city development are intrinsically connected,” Matya emphasises.
Cape Town station serves as an interchange for a number of other modes of transport, inclu- ding minibus taxis, long-distance bus services, metered taxis and commuter buses. As a central transport interchange, the station will be the gateway to the city for scores of soccer fans. The new rail link between Cape Town station and Cape Town International Airport will add four to five new train sets and a whole new group of commuters to the service.