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Future Gautrain station planned for Blue Hills – June 2014

Gautrain proposes seven new rapid rail routes

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BY: NATALIE GREVE

The Gautrain Management Agency (GMA) has proposed the development of seven new rapid rail routes along identified “high-mobility corridors” in Gauteng, which will be promulgated under the province’s 25-year Integrated Transport Master Plan (ITMP25).

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The proposed extensions, in order of priority, would include a link from the existing Sandton station to Randburg; a link from Ruimsig to the Samrand station; a link from theSamrand station to Tshwane East; a link from Rhodesfield to the East Rand Mall; a link from Naledi to Ruimsig; and a link from Tshwane East to Mamelodi.

GMA CEO Jack van der Merwe emphasised at a media briefing on Thursday that the routes, which would require the construction of 140 km of railway line, would remain proposals until provincial and local authority approval, which the agency expected by the end of the year, was attained.

“We must remind Gauteng residents that this is a process that is part of a far larger plan that first requires Cabinet approval, after which the process would then enter the design phase, followed by the feasibility studies.

“If approved, construction of the lines will still be four or five years away, but construction of the stations will start earlier,” he commented.

The exact location of stations along the high-mobility corridors had not yet been identified, as these would be determined during the design phase, Van der Merwe added.

Moreover, he said the rail lines would be developed both above and below ground.

“Obviously, we will run underground where we need to, but we prefer to run above ground, as this is a far cheaper exercise,” he noted.

Commenting on the issue of funding, Van der Merwe, who would not be drawn on the expected capital outlay of the proposed extensions, said the GMA would look to draw funds from the provincial budget through the Division of Revenue Act, as well as through private sector borrowing and private sector equity.

“We’re also hoping that we can access some of the R800-billion allocated to strategic infrastructure projects, so that’s where we’ll knock on the door first,” he said, adding that the Passenger Rail Agency (PRASA) was a strategic partner in the project.

These comments came days after PRASA and Gibela Rail Transportation signed a R51-billion contract for the supply of 600 passenger trains, made up of 3 600 coaches, to be delivered between 2015 and 2025.

The contract formed part of the passenger rail agency’s aim of revitalising the rail industry, creating jobs and providing efficient, reliable and safe public transport by replacing the ageing suburban trains in service in Pretoria, Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban, with 1 200 electric trains over a 20-year period.

Gauteng MEC for Roads and Transport Dr Ismail Vadi iterated that the proposed Gautrain‘s routes’ significance could only be measured in context of the overarching provincial ITMP25, which would see the proposed trunk high-speed rail routes supported by feeder transport systems.

“It is no longer possible to plan in silos. This rail system is intended to be the backbone of the envisaged transport network, which will be supported by the bus rapid transportsystem, metrorail trains, taxi routes and cycle paths,” he said at the briefing.

Further emphasising the importance of an integrated, multimodal provincial transport network, Van der Merwe said the ITMP25 would drive decreases in the use of motorisedtransport, private vehicles and roads, while promoting the use of nonmotorised transport, public transport and rail.

“The Gautrain won’t have an impact if its not part of a bigger transport plan,” he noted.

Edited by: Chanel de Bruyn

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