Gautrain creates a buzz on first day

About 11 000 commuters had travelled on the Gautrain's new city-to-city high-speed train route between Joburg and Pretoria by midday on Tuesday, said Gautrain Management.

“These are the figures we have received since the opening at 5am,” said Gautrain Management CEO Jack Van de Merwe.

Ismail Vadi, Gauteng MEC for Roads and Transport on the Gautrain. Picture: Sizwe Ndingane. Credit: INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS

He said about 1 600 commuters had used Gautrain buses to get to the stations.

A one-way journey takes just over half-an-hour and costs R46.

On the way to Hatfield from Sandton, the train stops at stations in Marlboro, Midrand, Centurion and Pretoria.

A first-time commuter aboard a train to Pretoria on Tuesday morning said the new route was easier, more peaceful and secure than driving.

“I have been driving to Pretoria from Randburg and back, for 11 years, and it made my life miserable,” said Gloria Maaka-Tlokana. Now she could tell her family exactly what time she would be home.

Maaka-Tlokana, who works for the education department in Pretoria, said she would park her car at Brightwater Commons shopping centre in Randburg every morning.

She would then board a bus to Sandton station and take the Gautrain.

In Pretoria, she would take a bus to Bosman street and then go to work.

“The whole trip including the bus rides, takes about an hour. And to think, it took me an hour just to leave Pretoria the other day,” said Maaka-Tlokana.

She said travelling on the Gautrain would also save her car maintenance costs.

Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele who boarded the Gautrain at Hatfield station on Tuesday morning, said the opening marked a new era for South African public transport.

“At 160 kilometres per hour, and I didn't even have my seat belt on,” he said from the platform at Sandton station.

The driver of the train between Rosebank and Hatfield was 26-years-old.

“I am impressed with all the drivers. All you need is a matric and driver's licence to operate these trains. Look, at 26 he's driving a train,” said Ndebele.

Transport MEC Ismail Vadi said it was hoped 100 000 commuters would use the Gautrain every day.

“I thought this day would never come... Gauteng stands out as the pride of this nation.”

The only hiccup on Tuesday was a four minute delay of one of the trains.

Economic development MEC Qedani Dorothy Mahlangu, said the public resources gathered for the project were now being enjoyed by all South Africans.

Gauteng premier Nomvula Mokonyane was also supposed to board at Hatfield station, but was ill with bronchitis.

In a speech prepared for the event, Mokonyane said the Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) service would also be integrated with the Gautrain.

“Commuters, therefore, will not have to experience the same frustrations and delays as motorists associated with escalating traffic congestion.” – Sapa