Rail transport in the Johannesburg area of South Africa will enter a new era in 2011 with the completion of the Gautrain Rapid Rail Link. The project will equip the massive population centre of the Gauteng area with a rapid transport service, providing a safe, efficient and reliable service to both commuters and international airport travelers. Gautrain will bring a modern railway route to the area and with its connection to Johannesburg International Airport and stations in densely populated commuter areas, will become an important role in social regeneration.
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. Alongside with many other rapid transit projects, Gautrain is aimed at reducing road congestion and aiding economic development.
The 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).
The contract is worth US$3.3bn, and includes 15-year maintenance and operating agreement. 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 will be built. The network will be 80km long in total when both Phase 1 and 2 are completed and various journey options become available between key stations.
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 was due to begin immediately, with the aim of commercial services starting in 2011.