4 July 2007
Johannesburg’s new train service, the Soweto Business Express, cuts down commuting times between Soweto and the city centre and offers additional amenities to lure travellers away from the roads.
Launched on Tuesday, the Soweto Business Express will operate during peak hours only, travelling between Naledi in Soweto and Johannesburg Park Station in less than 45 minutes.
The train forms part of a South African Rail Commuter Corporation (SARCC) initiative to provide a safe and efficient service for commuters, while reducing traffic on the roads.
The train, which seats 530 people, will have 23 cabin crewmembers that will assist commuters by serving beverages and newspapers, while there were also be onboard connections for laptops. There will also be about 10 security guards.
Commuters will pay R17 for daily tickets, R95 for a weekly ticket and R310 for the month.
The train, which will be operated by SARCC subsidiary Metrorail, will only stop at Naledi, Ikhwezi, Dube and Johannesburg, and will incorporate services such as buses and taxis.
Speaking during the launch at Naledi station, Transport Minster Jeff Radebe said the government was committed to achieving “a high quality public transport network which integrates rail, bus and taxis from a single efficient and effective public transport system.”
SARCC chief executive Lucky Montana said rail transport was crucial to reducing traffic congestion and air pollution caused by cars, and important for economic growth.
“Many people spend a lot of money on petrol each day, but with this service, people will save money and cut travelling times,” Montana said. “We therefore want to invest money to provide safe, efficient trains and habitable stations.”
Montana said 180 000 people moved through the Naledi-Johannesburg corridor weekly, generating about R900 000 per month.
He added that the SARCC had set aside over R16-billion over three years to improve its services, R7-billion of which was earmarked for the upgrading of coaches.
A similar service is to be introduced between Johannesburg and Pretoria early next year.