R/€ = 15.26Change: -0.01
R/$ = 14.41Change: -0.03
Au 1057.95 $/ozChange: 0.07
Pt 835.50 $/ozChange: 0.00
Note: Search is limited to the most recent 250 articles. Set date range to access earlier articles.
Where? With... When?

And must exclude these words...
Close Main Search
Close Main Login
My Profile News Alerts Newsletters Logout Close Main Profile
Agriculture   Automotive   Chemicals   Competition Policy   Construction   Defence   Economy   Electricity   Energy   Environment   ICT   Metals   Mining   Science and Technology   Services   Trade   Transport & Logistics   Water  
What's On Press Office Tenders Suppliers Directory Research Jobs Announcements Letters About Us
RSS Feed
Article   Comments   Other News   Research   Magazine  
Jul 30, 2010

Gautrain beats all ridership expectations in first month

© Reuse this

The Gautrain carried more than 400 000 passengers in its first month of operation.

The first phase of the rapid rail link started ferrying paying customers between OR Tambo International Airport and Sandton on June 8, in time for the FIFA World Cup kick-off on June 11.

“We expected a third of this number, so the additional passengers were a very nice surprise – it was a fantastic compliment for us,” says Bombela CEO Jerome Govender.

“We are also proud that we carried these pas- sengers without major incident.”

Bombela is building and operating the Gautrain for the Gauteng provincial government. The completed project will link Pretoria, Johannesburg and the airport by 2011.

Despite the good showing at the turnstiles, Govender believes passenger numbers for the first month of operations are bound to be skewed by the World Cup and the long school holidays, and that it will only be possible to gain a clear idea of the rail link’s normal traffic over the next three months.

He notes, though, that it bodes well that the system carried “a good mix” of regular commuters and “curious folk” during its first 30 days.

A sleep-deprived Govender and his team were a regular sight on the Gautrain as it started opera- tions.

They test-drove the system for hours on end, assisting commuters and ironing out operational issues as they stepped off one train and onto the next.

It was especially weekends, when Gautengers on holiday made use of the Gautrain for family outings, that presented the biggest challenge.

“Until the first day of operation, all knowledge is really only theoretical,” muses Govender. “Ridership levels are all just desktop studies until you open the gates.”

More than 40 000 people showed up at the four operational Gautrain stations over the first week- end, literally queueing for hours to buy their gold cards and get on the 160-km/h ‘fun ride’.

Trains had to be rescheduled from 30-minute intervals to eight-minute intervals to cater for demand that weekend, and Bombela was forced to exercise careful crowd control on the platforms to make sure no one was trampled. Bombela deployed nearly every team member on its payroll to handle the throngs of people.

On one of his many Gautrain rides, Govender ran into a large family from Lenasia.

Like so many South Africans, it was obvious that it was the first time they had made use of a train.

As they failed to press the button to open the doors at the Marlboro station, Govender rushed to assist, but they still missed their stop. He then helped the family to make a round trip, returning to Marlboro station by way of Sandton.

“As I helped them off, the grandmother of the family asked me: ‘So, are you the conductor?’” Shrugging his shoulders and laughing, he replied: “Yes, I am. We all did all kinds of jobs this past month.”

It was good to see people use a train for the first time,” says a much more relaxed Govender than the man Engineering News ran into on the first day of operation.

And, if the holder of a master’s degree in urban planning and an MBA from Wits had to do it all again, what would he do differently?

Govender says Bombela has received many suggestions from the public on how to improve the Gautrain experience.

“One thing we can do immediately is to improve signage, especially at Sandton. A lot has been done already, but we can do more.”

Another suggestion has been that the Gautrain should operate earlier and later than the current 05:30 to 20:30 time slot, especially as many flights at OR Tambo International Airport depart and arrive before and after these hours.

“But we can’t simply implement this, we have to have discussions with the Gautrain Management Agency (the Gauteng government body), as they really are our regulators.”

Govender adds that it would really only be prudent to change the system once there is a reliable operational pattern evident – and one that falls within a “normal” period of the year.

While the Gautrain has raked in ticket sales, the Gautrain bus system, carrying people to and from the stations, has had less success, but, once again, Govender believes it is premature to pronounce a judgement on its future.

“People still need to [get to know] the bus system.”

Meanwhile, construction on phase one continues, with work on the Sandton station only to be completed by the end of the year.

Bombela rushed to ready the first phase for operation in time for the FIFA World Cup.

After negotiations with government failed on securing additional funding to accelerate the pro- ject so that phase one would be ready for the global sports event, Bombela made a new, no-cost proposal to have a somewhat scaled-down first phase operational on June 11 – hence, the incomplete Sandton station.

Contractually, the first phase had to be ready by the end of June, but Bombela argues that the end of 2010 was a more likely date for this to happen, owing to what it says was the late handover of land from the Gauteng government for project construction.

“It was inconceivable for Bombela not to have the project ready for the World Cup,” notes Govender.

“Our team worked round the clock to make it happen, and we are very proud that we were able to do it. I think the Gautrain added to the world-class experience football fans from around the world had in South Africa. It took a superhuman effort, but we did it. It became a personal mission for each and every one of us to achieve this goal.”

Govender emphasises that the initial success of the Gautrain cannot be attributed to any one person or organisation “but that it was the collective effort of many organisations and contractors and hundreds, if not thousands, of individuals to whom I am very grateful”.

He adds that many elements had to come together to achieve a June 8 ribbon cutting. Apart from construction work, the project also had to receive the final sign-off from the Railway Safety Regulator, and the Independent Certifier.

And now that phase one is operational, what does Bombela have to achieve next?

Govender says phase two, the link between Pretoria and Johannesburg, has to be ready to open in April next year, and is currently running roughly one month behind schedule.

“We’ll go through a process to see how to deal with this.”

Also, to ensure phase two opens with equal applause and public enthusiasm, Govender and his team have to make sure phase one remains an operational success.

“We need to keep on building confidence that the Gautrain is safe and reliable. We have to keep the trains on time; we have to keep the pressure on. One month’s success does not mean we have been successful. Our challenge now [is greater]. We have to deliver phase two, and operate phase one successfully.”

Edited by: Martin Zhuwakinyu
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor
© Reuse this Comment Guidelines (150 word limit)
Other Transport & Logistics News
French conglomerate Bollore may have to halt work on the Niger to Benin section of its giant West Africa rail project after a rival company won a court order to stop it going ahead. The dispute concerns rival rail schemes in the area.
In its opinion outstanding e-toll bills are related to an unjust and irrational law which makes it unnecessary for businesses to be concerned about the amount they owe or to disclose it as a debt to shareholders, the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (Outa) said...
The BMW Group will invest R6-billion at BMW Group South Africa’s (BMW SA’s) Rosslyn plant to produce the next-generation X3 sports-activity vehicle (SAV) for the local and export markets. Rosslyn will continue production of the current 3 Series through its lifecycle,...
Latest News
French conglomerate Bollore may have to halt work on the Niger to Benin section of its giant West Africa rail project after a rival company won a court order to stop it going ahead. The dispute concerns rival rail schemes in the area.
A week ahead of the second annual gathering of the Forum on China–Africa Cooperation (Focac), in Johannesburg, the JSE is rolling out the proverbial red carpet for Chinese investors looking to Africa’s largest bourse for possible investment opportunities, calling...
The South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) applied for leave to appeal on Friday against the Western Cape High Court judgment that set aside the approvals that would enable it to toll sections of the N1 and N2 freeways in Cape Town. This prompted the...
Recent Research Reports
Water 2015: A review of South Africa's water sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Water 2015 Report considers the aforementioned issues, not only in the South African context but also in the African and global context in terms of supply and demand, water stress and insecurity, and access to water and sanitation, besides others.
Input Sector Review: Pumps 2015 (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s 2015 Input Sector Review on Pumps provides an overview of South Africa’s pumps industry with particular focus on pump manufacture and supply, aftermarket services, marketing strategies, local and export demand, imports, sector support, investment...
Liquid Fuels 2015: A review of South Africa's liquid fuels sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Liquid Fuels 2015 Report examines these issues in the context of South Africa’s business environment; oil and gas exploration; fuel pricing; the development of the country’s biofuels industry; the logistics of transporting liquid fuels; and...
Road and Rail 2015: A review of South Africa's road and rail sectors (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Road and Rail 2015 report examines South Africa’s road and rail transport system, with particular focus on the size and state of the country’s road and rail infrastructure and network, the funding and maintenance of these respective networks, and...
Defence 2015: A review of South Africa's defence sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Coal 2015 report examines South Africa’s coal industry with regards to the business environment, the key participants in the sector, local demand, export sales and coal logistics, projects being undertaken by the large and smaller participants in the...
Real Economy Year Book 2015 (PDF Report)
There are very few beacons of hope on South Africa’s economic horizon. Economic growth is weak, unemployment is rising, electricity supply is insufficient to meet demand and/or spur growth, with poor prospects for many of the commodities mined and exported. However,...
This Week's Magazine
The BMW Group will invest R6-billion at BMW Group South Africa’s (BMW SA’s) Rosslyn plant to produce the next-generation X3 sports-activity vehicle (SAV) for the local and export markets. Rosslyn will continue production of the current 3 Series through its lifecycle,...
The lack of consequences for poor performance and transgressions on the part of contractors remains a significant hurdle to tackling South Africa’s service delivery challenges, delegates heard at the Consulting Engineers South Africa Infrastructure Indaba, on...
City of Ekurhuleni executive mayor Mondli Gungubele earlier this month officially named the city’s bus rapid transit (BRT) system, Harambee.
NICK CHRISTODOULOU As about 58% of data stored by organisations is dark, they must identify this dark data to expose risks and valuable information
About 58% of unstructured data stored by companies is dark data, which means that the value or regulatory importance of the data has not been determined. Subsequently, most of the stored data add costs, rather than increasing revenue or reduce regulatory risks, says...
BRIAN VERWEY Effective management, review and administration of non-core elements can improve business operations and increase revenue and decrease unforeseen risks
Effective logistics, import/export and manufacturing consulting services require detailed industry knowledge and experience, but can add significant value to these industries by providing expert advice on various technical elements in their value chains, says...
Alert Close
Embed Code Close
Research Reports Close
Research Reports are a product of the
Research Channel Africa. Reports can be bought individually or you can gain full access to all reports as part of a Research Channel Africa subscription.
Find Out More Buy Report
Engineering News
Completely Re-Engineered
Experience it now. Click here
*website to launch in a few weeks
Subscribe Now for $96 Close
Subscribe Now for $96