Over a million use Gautrain

22 November 2010

In the first five months of its existence, 1.2-million people stepped on board the high-speed Gautrain to be whisked across the eastern edges of Johannesburg. Of those, about 50 percent were airport commuters, travelling to OR Tambo International at speeds of up to 160 kilometres an hour.

Kelebogile Machaka, the spokesperson of Bombela Concession Company, the operating company, says that ridership in the first month – during the 2010 Fifa World Cup – was almost three times above the projected number of commuters. This equates to about 80 000 commuters each week. After the football tournament, this figure has settled down to some 50 000 passengers a week.

“During the launch period we were overwhelmed by the take-up of Gautrain services,” Machaka says. “During this period and subsequently we have been focusing on educating the public about the service and how to use [it].”

There are two separate services. On the airport run, consisting of the front two coaches of the train, commuters step aboard in Sandton and disembark at OR Tambo International Airport 15 minutes later. This trip costs R100 for a single ticket.

The general service – the remaining coaches – takes commuters from Rhodesfield, barely a kilometre outside the airport, to Sandton, via Marlboro. This ticket costs R21 one way, while the ticket from Rhodesfield to Marlboro is R18.50 and the ticket from Marlboro to Sandton is R16.50.

“[The] Gautrain continues to integrate into the lives and hearts of commuters in Gauteng,” says Machaka.

She says that the full 80km route, from Park Station in central Johannesburg through to Hatfield in Pretoria, is expected to be operational by mid-2011.

The Gautrain runs every 12 minutes in peak times, from 5.30am to 8.30am, and from 4pm to 7pm. It runs every 20 minutes in off-peak times during the week. Over the weekends it runs every 30 minutes. The service runs until 8.30pm every night.

Feeder buses

Up to 30 percent of commuters also use the Gautrain feeder buses. This equates to 1 000 bus passengers daily – and this number is growing steadily. “Compared to analogous projects elsewhere in the world, this is, in fact, already a high proportion,” she adds.

There are six bus routes from Sandton Station – buses bring from and take commuters to Rosebank, Randburg, Fourways, Wendywood and Rivonia, and travel around the Sandton CBD. These trips cost R6. The Rosebank bus route will fall away once that station opens next year.

Commuters can simply travel on a bus to and from these destinations, without taking the train, at a cost of R20. Buses do not run over the weekends.

Meanwhile, the rest of the Sandton Station will be complete by December. Final work includes completing the parking facilities, the third platform to service the south-bound line to Rosebank and Park stations, an undercover taxi terminus, and the final reinstatement of Rivonia Road.

Other stations

Work at Park Station in the CBD is progressing well. Internal finishes need to be completed, and testing and commissioning of the mechanical and electrical installations is still to be undertaken. All six parkade decks are complete and Wolmarans and Smit streets have been reinstated.

Rosebank Station is in a similar state of preparedness. Internal finishes and testing and commissioning of the mechanical and electrical installations needs to be completed. Construction of the main entrance to the station and the parkade is ongoing.

Midrand Station is in the final stages of completion. Construction and building works are largely complete, as are the internal finishes and mechanical and electrical installations. The same applies to Centurion and Pretoria stations.

At Hatfield Station, concourse construction is ongoing, with structural steelwork, roof cladding and façade glazing all substantially complete. Mechanical and electrical installations and finishing works within the parkade are also substantially complete. All bridges and viaducts along the route from Marlboro to Hatfield are in place.

Construction of the Gautrain began in September 2006. The airport to Sandton section of the route was opened three weeks ahead of schedule, on 8 June, just three days before the start of the 2010 Fifa World Cup.

The 15km tunnel, running from Park Station to Marlboro Station, is complete, while track laying is proceeding south of Rosebank Station. The underground works include the construction of seven emergency access shafts. Construction of all shafts is substantially complete.

Source: City of Johannesburg