Gautrain on track to get rolling next month
It's glitzy, fast and comfortable - and with great relief it is nearly ready to roll.
After years of planning, construction, glitches, controversy and doubt, the Gautrain is reaching finality and the route between Sandton and Johannesburg Park Station is expected to open some time next month.
Yesterday, The Star went for a test run, and discovered that all it took to get from Rosebank to the Joburg CBD was three minutes and R19.
Test runs on the final link, which has been sticking to the planned daily schedules, started on Friday.
The launch of the last leg was delayed last year because of water seepage found in sections along the tunnel.
The full service was meant to be up and running by last August, but it was discovered that a coffee-mug amount of water at one metre a minute was draining into 800m of the tunnel between Rosebank and Johannesburg Park stations.
The problem, according to Bombela Consortium spokesman Errol Braithwaite, now only occurs over a stretch near the Wilds. The levels of water were safe, he said, but higher than contractually agreed on.
"(The water) is insignificant as far as the train in concerned," he said. "That's what you get when you design an underground tunnel."
Water is collected under the tracks and pumped out above the ground.
Braithwaite said the quality of the water was fairly good and research was being done to see if it could be put to use for people in Gauteng.
The deepest the train runs is 80m underground and it can go as fast as 160km/h.
The Rosebank-park station trains will arrive and depart every 12 minutes during peak times and every 20 minutes during normal hours.
Braithwaite could not give an exact opening date as Bombela must still wait for some key matters to be signed off, but he said that all going well, the route could even open as early as next week.
Sandton to Park Station will cost R21.
A trip from Park Station to OR Tambo International will cost R115.