Meet, shop, dine at Park Station

Thursday, October 31, 2013
Nthambeleni Gabara

Johannesburg Park Station will soon not only be a place to start your journey, but a destination to meet, shop and dine, writes Nthambeleni Gabara.

Park Station - Africa’s largest railway station – has been transformed into an integrated public transport facility, and now thanks to Prasa’s Corporate Real Estate Solutions (Cres) the station is being revamped to accommodate retail shops and restaurants.

The station is the central railway station in the city of Johannesburg and is also the terminus of Shosholoza Meyl long-distance services to Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth, East London, Bloemfontein via Kimberley, Komatipoort via Nelspruit and Musina via Polokwane.

The construction of the new upper food court which is underway is already grabbing the attention of taxi, Gautrain and Rea Vaya commuters as well as pedestrians who stop and take a look at the initiatives aimed at transforming Park Station from old-fashioned and unattractive to innovative and user-friendly.

The refurbishment will create a more pleasant experience for bus, train and taxi commuters and encourage more South Africans to use public transport.

Park Station has been linked with the City of Johannesburg’s Rea Vaya Bus Rapid Transit System, Metrorail and the Gautrain where passengers are now able to transfer to Metrorail, Gautrain as well as other long distance modes of public transport.

The southern terminus of the Gautrain rapid-rail service is located underground, adjacent to the existing main-line station and the new upper food court.

Just next to the Gautrain station, there is Prasa Cres branding which reads: “Fish and Chips, Anat, McDonald's, King Pie, Debonairs, and Sweets from Heaven coming soon”. This will be exciting additions to the station.

The upper food court will lead to a banking mall, where well-known banks including Bidvest Bank, Rennies Foreign Exchange and MoneyGram Money Transfer will open branches, creating more job opportunities.

From what I can gather when I visited the stations, all the restaurants will be in one space, retail stores and banks also in their respective spaces.

Close to 200 000 passengers pass through the station which was initially built in 1897 mainly because of the opening of the new Rea Vaya and Gautrain stations at the precinct of Park Station.

As the major refurbishment is expected to be completed before December, this will be a Christmas gift to thousands of holidaymakers making their way to their various destinations.

Prasa’s New Rolling Stock Fleet

With a view to promote rail passenger safety as well as luring more South Africans to use public transport, Prasa has intensified its efforts to invest significantly in the new rolling stock over the next 20 years, with the first trains expected to be delivered in 2015.

This will transform Park Station into a world-class traveling destination where passengers are transported with modern reliable, safe and fast trains and buses.

The current aging fleet, combined with a rapidly growing passenger need, has led PRASA to focus on upscaling the rolling stock investment as part of a broader strategy to acquire modern technology to meet changing demands.

The Rolling Stock Fleet Renewal Programme envisages the acquisition of 7 224 Electric Multiple Units (EMUs) with a projected investment of R123 billion over a period of 20 years (between 2015 and 2035) to progressively replace the existing fleet and allow for expansion to accommodate demand growth and planned extensions to the PRASA network.

The programme is expected to be the catalyst for the transformation of Metrorail services and public transport as a whole and is a critical part of the rollout of the government’s comprehensive rail plan over the next two decades.

Commuters and travelers alike have much to look forward to as the station is transformed over the next weeks and years. -