The Gautrain Management Agency (GMA) expects the number of regular passengers using the rapid rail transport system to stabilise from July, now that the final leg between Rosebank and Park stations has finally been opened.
Passenger numbers are expected to increase by 10% to 15%.
GMA CEO Jack van der Merwe says Park station recorded 2 517 entries and 2 536 exits on June 7 – the first day of operation.
“About 2 000 passengers were transported by bus to and from Rosebank station and we assume they took the train from that point,” he comments.
The Railway Safety Regulator announced on June 6 that it had informed the Bombela Operating Company that it had no objection to the exten- sion of passenger-carrying services from the Rosebank to Park stations.
The service between the stations was initially scheduled to open in August last year but was put on hold owing to a dispute regarding excessive water ingress in the tunnel between the two stations.
Following additional engineering work, Bombela stated that the water ingress into the tunnel was a minor issue that had been resolved.
Meanwhile, Van der Merwe tells Engineering News that the deck at Marlboro station will soon be replaced as a result of a design fault.
This two-phase replacement programme is expected to take one year to complete.
Passengers who, to date, have taken the train to Rosebank station and then a Gautrain bus into the Johannesburg central business district will now be able to start their bus journey from Park station instead to the same stops as before.
A single pay-as-you-go train trip between Hatfield and Park stations will cost R52 and a trip between Sandton and Park stations R22.
Gautrain offers two distinct train services: an airport service linking Sandton and Marlboro to OR Tambo International Airport; and commuter services linking Rhodesfield, Marlboro and Sandton, known as the east–west link, and Park, Rosebank, Sandton, Midrand, Centurion, Pretoria Central and Hatfield, known as the north–south link.
The Gautrain bus fleet operates on 24 routes, providing safe, comfortable and reliable passage from Park, Rosebank, Sandton, Rhodesfield, Midrand, Centurion, Pretoria Central and Hatfield stations.
The bus and train services operate daily between 05:30 and 20:30.
At peak times – between 05:30 and 08:30 and between 15:00 and 19:00 – the trains and buses run every 12 minutes and at off-peak times every 20 minutes.
Over weekends and public holidays, the trains run every 30 minutes – however, with no bus service.
Phase 1 of the Gautrain rail system was opened for commercial service on June 8, 2010.
The first-phase operations included the airport train service between Sandton station and OR Tambo International Airport, a commuter service between Sandton and Rhodes- field and an intermediate stop at Marlboro station.
This also included dedicated feeder and distribution bus services to and from Sandton and Rhodesfield stations.
The second phase was opened on August 2, 2011. The operations included the link between Rosebank and Pretoria.
The Gautrain is based on the Electrostar train set already in use in the UK.
In South Africa, the trains are formed into four-car sets to transport up to 450 passen- gers, or eight-car sets to carry 900 passengers. They operate at speeds of up to 160 km/h.
The traction power entails 25 kV alternating current supplied through overhead catenaries.
Speaking at a conference in May about the state of public transport in Gauteng, Van der Merwe said that public trans- port only worked when people used it and that Gautrain promoted the use of public transport, as it carries between 30 000 and 35 000 passengers a day.
Consumers’ out-of-pocket expenses on transport, such as the proposed South African National Roads Agency Limited’s e-tolling system and the rising price of petrol, may have an effect on the number of people using public transport systems such as Gautrain, he noted.
Further, Gautrain has inte- grated with the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) and Johannesburg’s bus rapid transit (BRT) sys- tem, Rea Vaya, which enables passengers to take BRT buses to the stations and then use the Gautrain, said Van der Merwe.
He adds that the GMA is in the early stages of investigating the possible expansion of the Gautrain system.
One of the extensions being considered is the provision of a commuter service in a 26 km loop of Metrorail railway lines in Pretoria, with 23 stations along the route.
Gautrain is in discussion with Prasa, the holding company of Metrorail, to provide the commuter system in the proposed loop, as it links up to Gautrain’s Pretoria station and will improve the public transport system in Pretoria, says Van der Merwe.
“Before we embark on any plans, we will conduct a thorough feasibility study to consider the potential cost and cost benefits, among other factors,” says Van der Merwe.
Further, he says the GMA is considering extending its route from Rhodesfield to other areas of the East Rand.