Gautrain expansion plan uncertainty

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The Gautrain Management Agency (GMA) has been quiet on the progress of its Gautrain expansion project despite construction having to start relatively soon.

MyBroadband asked the GMA whether it is on track to begin construction by year-end as scheduled and if it could share cost estimates for the project.

However, it had not answered our questions by the time of publication.

The latest update came from GMA CEO Tshepo Kgobe, who took over from William Dachs in February 2024 and said the expansion project is taking shape.

“Furthermore, the extension project to add 150-kilometre of rail network to the existing 80-kilometre Gautrain system is also taking shape,” said Kgobe.

“The route determination of Phase 1 of the proposed extensions from Marlboro Station to Little Falls Station has been finalised.”

In October 2023, the GMA announced it was in the advanced stages of finalising its expansion plan, which aims to add 150km to the existing 80km network.

The network currently links Johannesburg, Pretoria, Kempton Park, and O.R. Tambo International Airport.

Former CEO Dachs said its plans involve building a network to link outlying areas to its existing network.

“The current Gautrain project was in phase one, with 80km of rail network linking key economic areas in the province,” he said.

“The agency plans to expand by another 150km of rail network, which will link the outlying areas.” This would nearly triple the rail network’s size — bringing it to 230km.

In May 2022, the agency completed proclamation routes that included areas like Randburg, Fourways, Little Falls, and Cosmo City.

Dachs said the step was crucial for the GMA to secure and obtain land rights, adding that the GMA is working on the second phase of proclamation routes. It includes Roodepoort and Soweto.

The expansion project is expected to begin in 2026 when the Gauteng Provincial Government will take over ownership of the express commuter rail system.

Gauteng’s transport department head, Thulani Mdadane, said the GMA will hand over Gautrain to the province at the end of the current concession, which expires in 2026.

“The Gauteng Provincial Government will own a R45-billion asset which has contributed significantly to the issues of the provincial economy, infrastructural spinoffs and employment opportunities,” Mdadane added.

Mdadane also noted Gautrain’s impact on job creation in South Africa. He said it helped create more than 61,000 indirect job opportunities and 10,000 direct jobs.

He added that since its inception, it had contributed more than R61 billion to South Africa’s gross domestic profit.

Mdadane said the Gauteng Provincial Government will focus on building, operating, and maintaining a sustainable and reliable rail system to benefit the province’s residents and visitors.

He also assured that the new concession will look into the ticket price model to expand accessibility to low-income groups as Gautrain’s services expand.

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