File photo: Yolande Du Preez

Cape Town - Land has been obtained for additional parking at Gautrain stations in Centurion, Pretoria and Rhodesfield stations.

Several feasibility studies are also on the cards, the findings of which will guide plans to increase capacity of Africa’s first rapid rail system.

Barbara Jensen, spokeswoman for the Gautrain Management Agency, said necessary studies such as the environmental and transport impact assessments would be undertaken in due course at the three locations.

The Gautrain system includes about 10 000 parking bays spread across all stations.

But parking facilities at the Pretoria, Centurion and Rhodesfield stations are filled to capacity, and occasionally at Rosebank and Park stations, Jensen said.

The move to increase parking and overall capacity followed complaints from passengers about parking shortages, as well as overcrowding in trains.

Such is the popularity of the Gautrain that its usage surpassed all expectations – the current average weekday use varies between 54 000 and 56 000 train passengers and about 21 000 bus passengers.

Already train services are being operated at levels originally anticipated only in 2026, according to the Gautrain Management Agency.

This growth in passenger demand has been attributed to the project’s focus on key customer satisfaction criteria such as safety, reliability and cost effectiveness, and external factors such as the cost of fuel and the introduction of e-tolling.

To address these problems, feasibility studies will commence soon into the introduction of new routes, Jensen said. Proposals include extending the line from the existing stations at Park to Westgate, Rhodesfield to Boksburg as well as Sandton to Randburg and Honeydew.

The fourth line will link Naledi in Soweto and Mamelodi using either a proposed new station at Samrand or the existing one at Midrand.

Jensen said studies would “most probably” take more than a year to complete.

“Two eight-car trains were introduced in April in the morning peak hours and another in the afternoon peak periods in an attempt to alleviate overcrowding.

“Certain trains are still quite crowded, but no incidents have been reported that the hourly capacity threshold has been reached.”

The feasibility and possible introduction of a dedicated morning shuttle train between Centurion and Sandton – currently the busiest and most used route – will also be done.

The off-peak fare discount has changed from 15 percent to 20 percent when compared with the previous year, resulting in marginal fare increases on the longer distances, said Jensen.

“This option is available system-wide for commuters, except those travelling to and from the airport.”

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Cape Argus