Gautrain may be delayed
Gautrain Management Agency CEO and project leader Jack van der Merwe says this last leg of the 80 km route has “more underground water than the project team anticipated”.
“We are looking at the impact of this on construction. It is an engineering problem we have to solve, and we are working to find a solution. Work on the rest of the system is progressing fine.”
The second phase of the R26,4-billion Gautrain, linking Pretoria and Johannesburg, is set to start operations at the end of June, already three months later than expected, owing largely to other technical pinch points, such as countering the extensive dolomite found in the Centurion area. Dolomite can lead to the formation of sinkholes.
The first phase of the Gautrain opened ahead of the 2010 FIFA World Cup – and ahead of the construction deadline – and links Sandton and the OR Tambo International Airport. “This time around we don’t have a date to chase as we did with the soccer,” says Van der Merwe. “We will open the second phase when we are ready.”
However, he adds that it will be possible to open a Rosebank–Pretoria, rather than full Park–Pretoria service by the end of June, should the underground water issue not be resolved by June 27. Trains are currently doing test runs from Rosebank station to Pretoria station, a process which will be extended to Hatfield station by the middle of April. Park, OR Tambo International Airport, and Hatfield are the rail link’s end-of-line stations.
Van der Merwe also notes that the tariffs for the second and last phase of the Gautrain have to be announced 20 days before the ribbon is cut on this section of the route, but adds that it will probably be made public much sooner.
“Our focus with this phase of the Gautrain is commuters, and we will provide substantial discounts to them. Commuters will be able to buy three tickets: a single trip ticket, a weekly pass and then also a monthly pass.”
Van der Merwe says the technology-rich Gautrain is to be a commuter-friendly transport system which should be cheaper than using a car – toll fees included – and more expensive than other public transport systems.
He believes that the Gautrain will draw 110 000 to 120 000 passenger rides a day when it opens its doors in June.“There is usually a ramp-up period of three years to the expected ridership, but I think we will get there sooner. We expect to eventually achieve 130 000 to 140 000 passenger trips a day.”
Van der Merwe adds that the proposed toll fees to be levied on 185 km of Gauteng highways in June should aid in pushing commuters to the rapid-rail link. He notes that the first phase of the project is achieving a 98% mark in terms of availability and punctuality.
This Irma Venter story was found on Engineering News on March 23