Gautrain Management Agency is finalising an expansion project which will see its rail network almost triple in size
BY MAHLOHONOLO MAGADLA
Within the next two years, the traffic congestion in Gauteng will grind down the speed in the province to 25km/h if no intervention is made. This is according to research done by the Gautrain Management Agency.
Speaking during a dialogue event hosted by Sowetan in partnership with Gautrain in Johannesburg, designated CEO Tshepo Kgobe explained how the commuter rail system planned to combat this issue by improving rail in the province to grow the economy.
“We did traffic modelling for the whole of the province and it assumes that all freeways, including the ones that are being built now, do not have the capacity to carry the number of vehicles that are there. In 2037, the freeway speed will grind down to 10km/h. If you have ever been in the region between Braamfontein and Buccleuch interchange, then you know what 10km/h looks like. I run faster than that in an hour,” he said.
“In 2013 when we realised that, we came to the decision that rail will be the backbone of public transport in the whole of the province. It was also decided that public transport would be double its size by 2023 but we are nowhere near that,” he said.
The agency is in the advanced stages of finalising its expansion project which will see the rail network almost triple in size. The Gautrain is currently an 80km express commuter rail system, which links major economic hubs in the provinces, however, it will now cover outlying areas and bring the railway total to 230km.
These outlying areas include Mamelodi, Springs, Dainfern, Little Falls, Cosmo City, Soweto and Boksburg. New stations will be based in Randburg, Fourways, Sunninghill, Olievenhoutsbosch, Irene, Tshwane East, Hazeldean, Mamelodi, East Rand Mall and Lanseria.
Speaking on the state of rail in the country, Transnet chief commercial officer, Bonginkosi Mabaso, said that there were challenges although freight rail requirements were going to triple in the coming years.
“Whatever challenges we are facing, as a rail service provider, have to be resolved because the whole world is looking at SA in terms of export. At the top of these challenges are vandalism and cable theft. A cable that has been stolen for 500m may not be a lot but in the bigger scheme of things, we lose as a country. The unfortunate part is that as we advance our technology to protect our rails, the syndicates are also becoming smarter in the ways of stealing cables,” he said.
Mabaso said the second biggest challenge was the shortage of the supply of locomotives and their spare parts. Due to this, some locomotives are parked and not in use as they are not functional without parts.
Kate Setjie, executive officer of Rail Chamber, a transport Seta, said that another solution was training and educating students by giving them access to the rail industry.
“It is our mandate that we educate and inform learners at TVET colleges about the rail industry, which is male-dominated. We also encourage school going children to take careers in the transport sector,” she said.
Those who are looking for bursaries, learnerships and funding can visit the Rail Chamber’s Transport Education Training Authority website to apply.
To watch the full recording of the Gautrain Management Agency Rail Dialogue in partnership with Sowetan, please click here
Image Source: Antonio Muchave, Photographer, Sowetan