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Thursday, 04 February 2021 17:10

Gautrain puts brakes on big expansion plans.

Staff Reporter.

The Gautrain Management Agency (GMA) has placed the procurement of its additional rolling stock and depot enhancement project on hold until further notice.

The decision was taken in the light of the significant impact that the Covid-19 pandemic and the various lockdowns have had on passenger demand on the Gautrain, the agency said in an emailed statement.

"Road traffic volumes have also decreased significantly and the growth trajectory for people movements is likely to take some time to recover to pre-Covid levels. Thus, whilst the need for additional rolling stock remains, it is no longer as urgent as it was at the time of issuing the tender documents in 2019.

"The GMA will consider measures for addressing various needs as part of its future planning of the management of the Gautrain Project and its holistic requirements."

GMA chief executive William Dachs said that the cancellation was primarily due to the impact of Covid-19 which 'put a hole' in the group’s plans, and that it only anticipates to get back to pre-Covid numbers in the next two to three years.

"We are currently at around 20% ridership compared with pre-Covid levels. We were 30% before Christmas, but then the second wave arrived and ridership went back down again. In that context is just doesn’t make sense to do this quite complex procurement process.

"We now see a longer path ahead for reaching capacity on the Gautrain system, so we decided to put the programme on hold. We now plan to combine it with the 2026 reinvestment in the system.

He said the proposed expansion of the Gautrain system is still on the table, as that is a long-term project with a 30-year horizon.

Dubbed 'Gautrain 2' the expansion project will see an additional 149km of railway line and 19 new stations added to the existing network, and create up to 175,000 direct jobs in the construction phase, and 68,000 new jobs in the operational phase.

However, the project is only likely to commence in 2024.

The first phase would see the network expanding by 32km, between Marlboro and Little Falls in Roodepoort, and consist of three new stations.

The expansion would see the following stations added to the existing network:

  • A link between Marlboro and Soweto with an additional station at Sandton, as well as new stations at Randburg, Cosmo City, Little Falls, Roodepoort and Jabulani;
  • A link between Jabulani and Mamelodi through Cosmo City, with new stations at Fourways, Sunninghill, Olievenhoutsbosch, Irene, Tshwane East, Hazeldean, and Mamelodi;
  • A link between Rhodesfield and Boksburg with new stations at East Rand Mall and Boksburg; and
  • A link between Cosmo City and Lanseria Airport with new stations at Cradle and Lanseria.
  • The extension’s Phase 1 has been submitted to National Treasury for approval in 2017, already. 

The extension’s Phase 1 has been submitted to National Treasury for approval in 2017, already. Dachs said that the delay is due to the size and ambitions of the project.