The tender for the procurement of new 12 new four-car trains for the Gautrain system will not be reissued, says Gautrain Management Agency (GMA) communication and marketing senior executive manager Dr Barbara Jensen.
An almost three-year tender process, initiated in February 2016, to secure additional train sets for the Gautrain system, at the end of last year failed to deliver the desired results when none of the three short-listed bidders produced a compliant bid.
Jensen says the GMA and system operator, Bombela, are preparing a business case to acquire a smaller number of train sets, “while the larger procurement is deferred to 2026 when there is an opportunity to combine this with a larger recapitalising of the system”.
The concession period for the current operator, Bombela, comes to an end in 2026.
The tender for the acquisition of 12 new trains was aimed at alleviating congestion on the Gautrain system during the morning and evening peaks.
Now it is hoped that a revised schedule of the Gautrain service, implemented on May 1, will assist to alleviate congestion, as well as stem ridership losses.
The Gautrain has experienced a drop in ridership amidst a struggling domestic economy.
Ridership on the Gautrain reached 15.6-million passengers a year in the 2016/17 financial year, dropping to 15-million in 2017/18.
At the end of April 2019 the total passengers transported for the year to date was within 1% of the same period in 2018, indicating that the passenger numbers have stabilised, notes Jensen.
“In May, Gautrain introduced a number of new initiatives to restore passengers . . . and these measures are expected to positively impact on ridership.”
The change in scheduling and in rolling stock deployment should prove especially beneficial to peak-time and airport passengers on the Gautrain system.
Bombela explains it has suspended the higher peak fare for a trial period. However, depending on capacity constraints, it may be reintroduced at a later stage.
“For now, the higher peak fare will not apply,” says Bombela spokesperson Kesagee Nayager.
The afternoon peak period will also be extended northbound only – from Park station to Hatfield station – from Monday to Friday.
The afternoon peak now starts at 14h38, as opposed to 15h28.
This means trains will be available every ten minutes from 14h38, while off-peak fares will apply during this extended peak period.
Also, trains travelling southbound – from Hatfield station to Park station – will start service earlier in the morning, but only on weekdays.
The first train will depart Hatfield station in Pretoria at 05h05, as opposed to 05h26, as before, with a knock-on effect at each station travelling south.
Nayager notes that Bombela has also introduced additional eight-car trains during the morning and afternoon peak periods on the north–south line to deal with capacity constraints.
The schedule changes will also see the first train departing from OR Tambo International Airport (ORTIA), at 05h19, stopping at Rhodesfield and Marlboro stations.
As such, both Rhodesfield and Marlboro stations now have an earlier train departure on weekdays.
Also, on weekends and public holidays, trains are now available every 20 minutes between ORTIA and Sandton stations, as opposed to every 30 minutes.
The time of departure for the last trains at the close of service remains the same as before at all stations, with trains not running later in the day.
Nayager notes that the schedule changes do not require the use of additional rolling stock.
The Gautrain system currently operates 96 coaches, with train configurations of either four or eight coaches, depending on time-of-day demand.