Gautrain Expansion Plans Aim to Boost Affordability and Reach

Gautrain Management Agency unveils plans to expand network from 80km to 230km, adding new routes and stations across Gauteng. The expansion aims to increase accessibility and affordability, with targeted fares for lower-income communities and reduced fares for specific user groups.

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Nitish Verma
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Gautrain Expansion Plans Aim to Boost Affordability and Reach

Gautrain Expansion Plans Aim to Boost Affordability and Reach

The Gautrain Management Agency (GMA) has unveiled ambitious plans to expand the Gautrain network and offer more affordable fares, particularly for lower-income areas. The proposed expected Phase 2 expansion will see the current 80km network triple in size to 230km, adding new routes and stations across Gauteng.

Why this matters: The expansion of the Gautrain network has significant implications for the economic and social development of Gauteng, as it aims to increase accessibility and affordability for lower-income communities. If successful, this project could serve as a model for other cities in South Africa and beyond, highlighting the importance of inclusive and sustainable public transportation systems.

The expansion includes extending the North-South commuter line with a new route between Samrand and Mamelodi, featuring stops in Irene, Pretoria East, and Hazeldean. The East-West Commuter line will stretch further in both directions, reaching Boksburg in the east and Cosmo City in the west. A brand new line will connect Jabulani in the south to Samrand in the north, with additional stations planned for Roodepoort, Little Falls, Fourways, Sunninghill, and Olievenhoutbosch.

The Airport Service line is also set for an extension, linking up with Lanseria Airport. New stations will be built in the Cradle, Randburg, and Sandton as part of this route. GMA Chief Operating Officer Victor Shange stated, "The premium fare will always be there, but we'll be able to introduce other 'targeted' fares." These targeted fares aim to make the Gautrain more accessible to certain groups, such as indigent families, pensioners, and scholars.

However, the expansion plans have drawn criticism from the Automobile Association of South Africa (AA), which labeled the move a "disastrous" financial decision that will fund a "failing" system. The AA argues that the Gautrain's current fares are too expensive for many of Gauteng's working residents. It also points out that billions of rand in Gauteng Provincial Government (GPG) funding are being used to partially subsidize the system through a Patronage Guarantee.

In response to these concerns, Shange emphasized that the Gautrain's top priority will be generating alternative revenue streams to reduce its reliance on the subsidy. He also highlighted the introduction of reduced fares for specific user groups as a key focus area. To date, the Gautrain has received close to R13 billion in funding from Gauteng taxpayers via the Patronage Guarantee. The system itself is currently valued at R45 billion as a fully paid-for asset.

The current concession agreement for the Gautrain is set to expire in 2026, at which point the system will be handed over to the GPG. The expansion plan itself is expected to be finalized by October 2023. As the Gautrain looks to significantly increase its reach and affordability, it remains to be seen how the proposed changes will impact the system's financial sustainability and accessibility for Gauteng residents.

Key Takeaways

  • Gautrain network to triple in size to 230km with new routes and stations.
  • Affordable fares planned for lower-income areas and targeted groups.
  • New routes to include Samrand-Mamelodi, Boksburg-Cosmo City, and Jabulani-Samrand lines.
  • Airport Service line to extend to Lanseria Airport with new stations.
  • Expansion plan to be finalized by October 2023, with concerns over financial sustainability.