The Gautrain Management Agency has proposed seven new routes for the express train that will expand the current network from places of employment to residential areas.
The new proposed routes form part of Gauteng province’s 25-year Integrated Transport Master Plan, which Transport MEC Ismail Vadi unveiled in August.
The proposed routes will see the Gautrain Management Company, should the proposals get the green light, expand the current Gautrain network that runs from Johannesburg Park Station to Pretoria via Sandton, Marlboro and Midrand.
Also on the current network are the OR Tambo International Link via Rhodesfield.
Presenting the proposed routes, Gautrain CEO Jack van der Merwe said the first phase will see a rail link between Sandton and Randburg via Honeydew in northern Johannesburg being constructed.
The second link that will be prioritised will see a route being constructed from Ruimsig to Samrand via Blue Hills, Sunninghill, Fourways, Cosmo City and Ruimsig.
The third link will connect Samrand and Tshwane East via Irene; thereafter, as the fourth priority, a link from the existing Rhodesfield Station to Boksburg via the East Rand Mall.
Van der Merwe said the tunnel drilling machine would then be taken from the Sandton-Honeydew link to construct the fifth phase – the link between the existing Johannesburg Park Station to Westgate in the CBD.
The sixth route will link Naledi in Soweto, south of Johannesburg, with Ruimsig, with the seventh and final route expected to link Tshwane East and Mamelodi.
Van der Merwe said this remains a proposal until it has received a buy-in from other local municipalities and eventually, Cabinet.
“The intension is to have [the Integrated Transport Master Plan]approved by the province and all local authorities before the end of 2013.
“Key to the [plan]is to prioritise public transport, with the rail system being the backbone of the transport network,” he said.
He said the proposal will be set in motion once the Master Plan has been approved by Cabinet, and said feasibility studies, the route designs and costing will then be done to determine how much the project would be worth.
The Master Plan envisions that with the population in Gauteng projected to grow by millions within the next few years, a shift should be made from private vehicles to public transport and non-motorised transport, and in the long term, from the road to rail.
The Master Plan will also foster a partnership between the Gauteng Department of Roads and Transport, the Gautrain Management Agency and the Passenger Rail Agency of SA to develop and extend the rail network into an intergraded and efficient transport system.
This, Van der Merwe said, will lead to the development of modern modal transfer facilities at Metrorail stations.
Meanwhile, Van Der Merwe said the proposed Gautrain high speed rail from Johannesburg to Durban was a national department project and would only be put in motion once Cabinet has approved the proposal.
With e-tolls set to be introduced on some of Gauteng’s freeways, Vadi said the Gautrain – which now ferries 52 000 people a day or 1.2 million people a year – was a good alternative.
He said the train has fast gained popularity and growth as a very reliable mode of transport, and urged residents to park their cars and hop on the train.