Gautrain to expand its reach
With a number of new routes and the addition of new trains, the expansion of the Gautrain network means good news for the province's economy.
Plans are underway to add new routes and new trains to connect more Gauteng communities
Since the Gautrain took to the tracks in June 2010, it has transported almost 80 million passengers between Johannesburg, Pretoria and OR Tambo International Airport. Now the integrated rail network is set to connect more Gauteng communities.
“The Gautrain is an integral part of our public transport system in Gauteng and has become a mode of choice for those who use it on a daily basis. It is safe, convenient, quick, reliable and offers value for money,” says Jack van der Merwe, CEO of the Gautrain Management Agency (GMA).
The 80km Gautrain route, with stations in Johannesburg, Rosebank, Sandton, Marlboro, Midrand, Centurion, Pretoria and Hatfield, plus a route eastwards to the airport via Rhodesfield, opened three days before the FIFA World Cup in 2010. It was completed in 2012.
There is a 15km tunnel running between Park and Marlboro stations, otherwise it runs above ground, crossing freeways in some places. It has 24-hour security, with over 600 CCTV cameras and over 400 security guards at stations, car parks and aboard the trains.
The trains are serviced by 125 60-seater feeder buses and 12 25-seater buses, which pick up passengers in the suburbs and take them to the Gautrain stations.
The Gautrain operates on a smart card, allowing seamless transfers between the train, the buses and parkades.
As a result of its growth, new routes are planned, to broaden the reach of the Gautrain in the province. A feasibility study has been conducted, and it recommends the following network extensions:
• A link between Jabulani via Cosmo City and Samrand to Mamelodi, with stations in Roodepoort, Little Falls, Fourways, Sunninghill, Olievenhoutbosch, Irene, Tshwane East and Hazeldean.
• A link between Sandton and Cosmo City with a station at Randburg.
• A link between Rhodesfield and Boksburg, with a station at the East Rand Mall and a possible link-up with the OR Tambo International Airport Midfield terminal development.
• A future link from Cosmo City to Lanseria Airport.
These extensions would be done in phases, through a public/private partnership.The feasibility study has been submitted to National Treasury and provincial Treasury for approval.
The Gauteng government believes that an extension of the Gautrain network, and the modernisation of the Metrorail rail system, must take place to accommodate the growing urban sprawl and unsustainable congestion on the province's roads and freeways.
“This is our dream of a world-class rail system to eventually connect our people throughout Gauteng,” says Barbara Jensen, GMA Gautrain Management Agency Senior Executive Manager of Communication and Marketing.
The Gautrain integrates with Metrorail trains at Johannesburg's Park Station, the Rhodesfield Station stop before the airport, and Pretoria Station.
The Gauteng MEC for Roads and Transport, Ismail Vadi, said that the new train project is expected to have a significant and positive socio-economic impact in the province as the Gauteng provincial government will insist on at least 65 percent local content by the successful bidder.
The project is expected to sustain 10 000 jobs in Gauteng and total government revenue is to increase by an estimated R542 million in nominal terms between 2019 and 2023.
The company chosen to construct the new routes has promised procurement compliance by the contractors, their suppliers and sub-contractors to meet economic development obligations.
Furthermore, an estimated R206 million is expected to be channelled to lower income households through job creation; a township incubation programme geared towards upskilling; and providing support to township enterprises by subcontracting to them.
An Independent Socio-Economic Monitor will ensure that these economic development obligations are met.
Social Investment Programme
MEC Vadi announced in January this year that his department had chosen 32 beneficiaries for the GMA's Social Investment Programme (SIP) fund. He said that “approximately R35 million, which is a fixed amount, is being distributed amongst beneficiaries with the bulk of the money going to programmes that are focusing on education.The GMA SIP focus areas are education, community care and environment.”
The 32 beneficiaries were selected from 83 applicants, based on how they would enhance the social, economic and environmental landscape of communities in the province. Of the 32 beneficiaries, seven are education projects, and the rest are community care and environment initiatives.
“The acquisition of 12 new trains over the next 36 months will help to alleviate congestion that Gautrain passengers experience in the morning and evening peaks.”
“The education projects are teacher–learner development programmes in Mathematics, Science and engineering and in certain [cases] a maximum of three years' funding is provided to specific beneficiaries.
“An example of a project type in this category is TRAC South Africa which supports Science, Applied Mathematics and technology education in South African secondary schools.The programme enables and encourages learners to enter into careers in science, engineering and technology,” he explained.
Community care projects are those that focus on farming initiatives, orphans and vulnerable children,
women empowerment and centres for abused women and people living with disabilities.
Resounding success story
The R26.5 billion Gautrain has been a resounding success story for Gauteng, not least for its clean coaches and punctual trains.
A 2014 economic impact study reported that 121 800 jobs were created during its construction, running from 2006 to 2012.This figure represents 2.5 percent of the total formal employment in Gauteng in 2013.
Of those jobs, 34 800 were created directly during construction, while 87 000 jobs were created indirectly through service suppliers.
The Gautrain contributed around R20 billion to Gauteng's economy during construction, and since full operation, it has contributed some R1.7 billion to the province's GDP.
Several businesses moved their offices closer to the Sandton and Rosebank stations. This translates into a
R10 billion investment in new developments and upgrades to retail spaces around the stations, and a
R12.9 billion increase in property values.
The first train ran in June 2010, from the airport to Johannesburg, and catered for the FIFA World Cup visitors that year. Now, seven years on, 24 trains service Gauteng commuters.
In the 2016/17 financial year, 6 000 people were employed by Gautrain.
Because of increased passenger demand, particularly during peak hours, MEC Vadi announced recently that 12 new trains have been ordered.
“The acquisition of 12 new trains over the next 36 months will help to alleviate congestion that Gautrain passengers experience in the morning and evening peaks,” he said.
“Three successful pre-qualified bidders for the new rolling stock have been named: Bombardier Transportation, CRRC E-Loco Supply and Egoli Rail Consortium,” he added.
The Gautrain is run by the project's private partner, the Bombela Concession Company, which has a 20-year concession agreement with the Gauteng government, with a 15-year operating and maintenance arrangement.
The original 2005 Concession Agreement with Bombela indicated that the amount of revenue from passengers would not cover the revenue required to run the train. As a result, the Gauteng province provides revenue support in the form of a
“To date, the revenue from passengers has been enough to cover Bombela's operating and maintenance costs and is close to that forecast at the time,” says Jensen.