Gautrain Project

The Future of Gautrain

Soweto to Mamelodi on the Gautrain? That is one of the ambitious goals of Bombela, as it mulls over adding 140km of new rail.

But there’s more. Underground tunnels linking stations like Sandton to Randburg, Roodepoort, Honeydew, Fourways, and Cosmo City, new routes connecting Johannesburg’s Park Station to the West Rand, a link between Rhodesfield and the East Rand Mall are also part of the ambitious new plan to transform the high-speed rail network across the province.

The 25-year plan still has to be presented to the Gauteng province’s legislature, before the blueprint is finalised. But the extended network would radically overhaul the public transport options in a province where motorists are now facing e-tolls being implemented on the highways before Christmas. This comes after a decision by the Supreme Court of Appeals, effectively green-lighting tolling of the province’s highways.

Many sceptics believed that the Gautrain would be a white elephant before it first began operating in 2010, but there are already 50 000 people who now use the train every day. Last year alone, traffic increased 60%.

Whether taxpayers will have the stomach for the cost of expanding the network remains to be seen. It cost R32-billion to build the current 79km route – far exceeding the initial projection of R7-billion made in 2006. But it has since emerged that the construction firms who worked on the project have rigged tenders and inflated costs.

The Gautrain itself hasn’t yet made a profit. This means that it still relies on government subsidies of about R800-million a year. Estimates suggest it needs to double its current passenger load to 100 000 people a day in order to turn a profit.

Bombela are hoping the approved expansions will be funded through government’s planned infrastructure expenditure over the projected period.

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