9 December 2010
South Africa’s first rapid rail network, the Gautrain, has celebrated the arrival of the last of 96 rail cars as it aims for completion of its second phase, the route linking Sandton, Rosebank and the Johannesburg CBD, in mid-2011.
The Gautrain also made its first public trip between the Midrand depot and Midrand on Tuesday.
All the 96 rail cars have now been completed, marking the end of a journey that began when the first carriage was shipped in all the way from Derby in the United Kingdom in 2008. About 81 of the cars have been locally produced at the Union Carriage and Wagon Partnership in Nigel, east of Johannesburg.
Speaking at an event to mark the occasion in Johannesburg on Tuesday, Gauteng Acting Premier and Finance MEC Mandla Nkomfe said the Gautrain project had created more than 1 000 direct jobs since it got off the ground two years ago.
By the end of October, Nkomfe added, more than R3-million had been spent on procurement of locally produced goods for the Gautrain, while a further R2-million had gone towards small businesses involved in the project.
“So for us this project has not only helped to address our social challenges of unemployment, but has managed to stimulate economic growth in Gauteng”.
Gauteng Roads and Transport MEC Ismail Vadi said there was no doubt that the Gautrain marked the beginning of a new era in the country’s passenger rail network, and would help reduce traffic congestion in South Africa’s busiest province.
Travelling with the Gautrain, Vadi added, was “travelling green”. The train’s environmentally friendly design has been hailed as a boost for South Africa’s contribution to cutting carbon emissions.
Bombela Concession Company CEO Jerome Govender attributed the success of the project to a “wonderful” partnership between the public and private sector.
It was this team effort that had ensured that the service between Sandton and OR Tambo International Airport was up and running in time for the 2010 Fifa World Cup.
“For us it’s very important to note all the men and women who worked so hard to ensure that we delivered the first phase in time for our World Cup, and we are very proud of everyone,” Govender said.