Rail transport in the Johannesburg area of South Africa entered a new era in 2011 with the opening of the Gautrain Rapid Rail Link. The project will serve the Gauteng area with a rapid transport service, providing a safe, efficient and reliable service to both commuters and airport travellers.
The Gautrain project has been the subject of extensive planning, following feasibility studies in the late 1990s to produce the first plans for a north-south and east-west rail route serving the Gauteng Province. As with many other rapid transit projects, Gautrain is aimed at reducing road congestion and aiding economic development.
The R25.4bn project is being managed as part of the Gauteng Department of Finance and Economic Affairs Public Private Partnership Unit and was initiated by the provincial government.
After opening the project to tender, the chosen consortium was Bombela (Bombardier, Bouygues Travaux Publics, South African civil contractor Murray & Roberts and Strategic Partners Group), which will also maintain and operate it for 20 years.
There are two main routes on the system: a north-south line from Hatfield to Marlboro and an east-west line from Park station (via Marlboro) to Johannesburg International Airport.
The network will be 80km long in total when Phase 1 and 2 are completed.
Phase 1 will include stations at Sandton, Marlboro, Midrand, Rhodesfield and Johannesburg International Airport. Phase 2 will extend the system from Sandton to Rosebank and Park Station – in Johannesburg – and from Midrand to Centurion, Pretoria and Hatfield, completing the 80km network.
Following the awarding of the contract to the Bombela Consortium in September 2006, work has taken place on both routes, with the aim of commercial services starting in 2011. Gautrain started operations between Rosebank station in Johannesburg and Hatfield on 2 August 2011. The remaining section is yet to be operational.