Gautrain takes off

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Midrand- South Africa's high speed train will reduce the gridlock on the country's roads as well as contribute to nation building said Justice Minister Jeff Radebe.

"The emphasis of public transport is that [it will encourage] social cohesion and reduce gridlock. The use of public transport cuts away individualism," Radebe told attendees of the commencement of operations of the first phase of the Gautrain on Saturday night.

The minister was standing in for Transport Minister Sbu Ndebele.

The first phase of the project, which will start ferrying passengers on Tuesday morning, links Sandton, Marlboro, Rhodesfield and OR Tambo International Airport.

"The biggest beneficiary of the Gautrain is definitely the tourism sector. Throughout the world [tourism and transport] they are joined at the hip," said Radebe.

The "innumerable" spin-offs of the project include businesses moving closer to the railway line.

Radebe said the completion of the first phase of the Gautrain ensured that those who doubted and did not believe the project would get off the ground would now turn their attention elsewhere.

He said the project has displayed co-operation between the three spheres of government.

Gauteng MEC for roads and transport Bheki Nkosi said the system will change the perception of public transport adding that it was the dawn of a new legacy in public transport.

"It is the pride of the nation and the continent," said Nkosi.

Chief executive of Murray & Roberts, Brian Bruce, said workers were in the process of putting the final touches to the train before Tuesday's trip. Murray & Roberts forms part of the Bombela consortium, which is responsible for the Gautrain.

"I know many cannot wait to board the train, it is more than just a train," he said.

Gautrain, he said contributes to job creation as well the creation of new opportunities for small business.

A commemorative issue of ten stamps celebrating the 150th anniversary of the first passenger train to be hauled in South Africa was also launched. They will be available through the Post Office as of 25 June.

Guests at the event were also treated to a train ride that began at 8:55 pm through all the stations.