South Africa's first high-speed train ready for World Cup

20:43, May 10, 2010      

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One section of South Africa's first high-speed rail service will be in operation before the kick off of the FIFA World Cup in Johannesburg on June 11, it was confirmed on Monday.

The project, named Gautrain because it is in South Africa's Gauteng province, will operate a service between the country's main airport, OR Tambo International east of Johannesburg, and Sandton in northern Johannesburg, from June 8.

Business Day newspaper in Johannesburg reported on Monday that Gautrain is likely to finalize the fare structure for its new high-speed rail link in the coming week.

The cost of the 12-minute trip to the airport is likely to be between 100 - 120 rands (13.3 - 16 U.S. dollars) for a one-way trip.

Gautrain spokeswoman Barbara Jensen told Business Day: "Gautrain will charge a premium for the airport link as it is a tailored service".

In comparison, when services are extended from central Johannesburg's Park Station to Hatfield in Pretoria next year, the fare will be between 30-40 rands (4-5.3 U.S. dollars) Jensen said the first two coaches of the train to the airport will be used exclusively for the airport service and will offer commuters larger seats and more luggage space.

"The airport coaches will be separate from the rest of the train, with only the first two coaches able to dock at the airport platform," Jensen said.

Other stations en route are Marlboro and Rhodesfield.

Jensen told Business Day the trains to the airport will run 12 minutes apart during the peak morning and evening periods, and 20 minutes apart during the rest of the day.

"When the second phase opens during the first half of next year, the intervals between trains will drop to 10 minutes in peak periods and 15 minutes during the rest of the day," said Jensen.

Seven years ago, when plans were laid, Gautrain estimated that up to 140,000 commuters would use the train once it was fully up and running.

However, Jensen now believes the introduction of toll fees on Gauteng highways next year will push up passenger numbers on the train.

"We believe that the service will be aimed at the upper income group. However, we also expect to attract an aspirational group of middle-income earners who may be lured away from the minibus taxis," Jensen said.



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