Ndebele rolls out red carpet for Gautrain

Monday, August 1, 2011

Pretoria - Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele has welcomed the next phase of the Gautrain from Johannesburg to Tshwane, which will open for commercial service from Tuesday.

The section to be opened will extend from Rosebank Station in Johannesburg to Hatfield Station in Tshwane. The Gautrain's bus services will also be fully functional along this route.

In a statement released by his department on Monday, Ndebele said the "ultra-modern, state-of-the-art" Gautrain rapid rail network marked a new era in public transportation, matching world standards for rapid rail transport.

"The main challenge facing our country is to modernise our railway system in a manner that promotes growth and development. We need new rail technologies to meet the demands of the 21st century. Our ability to efficiently move freight and people is vital to a modern, thriving economy," said Ndebele.

Phase 1 of the project between Sandton and OR Tambo Airport was opened in June 2010. Travelling at 160km per hour, taking just 38 minutes between Johannesburg and Pretoria, Ndebele said the Gautrain will set a benchmark for future developments in South Africa.

"Government is making steady progress towards ensuring that rail is the backbone of South Africa's public transport system, as key elements of its rail investment strategy are already being implemented."

The national Department of Transport contributed R12.985 billion towards the Gautrain. Government was further spending R30.2 billion over the next three years for rail upgrades across the country, with R19.5 billion earmarked for capital spending to upgrade existing infrastructure, signalling systems and rolling stock.

The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) is also embarking on a programme to invest in new rail rolling stock worth R97 billion over a period of 18 years for Metrorail and long-distance rail services, which in turn will significantly increase the country's passenger rail transport network, offering new routes and destinations throughout South Africa.

"Government's public transport plans are not a promise for the next millennium. Transport infrastructure over the next two years is guaranteed to radically change the way South Africans travel due to a multibillion rand boost by government," added Ndebele.