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Wednesday May 02, 2012

Water in tunnel keeps last Gautrain link closed

The routes between Pretoria, Hatfield, Centurion, Midrand, Sandton and Rosebank opened in August, with the Rosebank to Park Station stretch remaining closed due to water problems in the tunnel.

Gautrain communications and marketing manager Dr Barbara Jensen said the problems had not been solved.

The Gauteng provincial government, with the Gautrain Management Agency acting as its agent, owns the Gautrain system and must ensure that the system is constructed and operated by Bombela in accordance with contractual specifications and good industry practice.

Bombela, in turn, is responsible for designing, constructing, operating and maintaining the system for the next 14 years.

"Bombela may be able to manage the excessive quantity of water flowing into the tunnel and provide the

Ttrain services in the short term, but up to the present time it has not provided any credible assurances that the excessive amount of water will not cause irreparable harm to the tunnel itself and the environment around it in the long term," said Jensen.

She explained that taking such a risk could lead to exposure to liabilities, and the province had asked Bombela to develop a revised tunnel rectification plan to comply with the specification, as instructed by the Dispute Resolution Board.

"The province cannot and will not agree to something that is clearly contrary to the long-term interest of the province and the public," she said.

Jensen said the province was awaiting a response from Bombela.

"The speed with which it can develop the revised tunnel rectification plan and the approval thereof will determine the date at which the Rosebank to Park Station section could be opened to the public," she said.

In the meantime, more commuters are using the Gautrain to travel to work and for recreation.

In its first month the Gautrain completed nearly 30 000 station-tostation trips and carried about 750 000 train passengers and about 125 000 bus passengers.

Bombela spokeswoman Kelebogile Machaka said the Gautrain was carrying between 32 000 and 35 000 passengers a day and about 11 000 bus passengers a day.

"Approximately two-thirds of these passengers travel during the morning and afternoon peaks, which are consequently very busy," she said.

Machaka said they expected an increase in passengers if e-tolling of the N1 eventually happened.

"We have inserted more eight-car trains - instead of the normal fourcar trains - to provide more capacity during the morning and afternoon peak period in anticipation of the toll coming into effect."

She also expected an increase in passenger numbers once the Park Station line was open.

Machaka said buses were operating on all routes at normal timetable frequencies, but only between 6am and 6pm.

"Despite the perception that the buses are not popular, Gautrain bus services in fact carry approximately a third of Gautrain passengers," she said.

Pretoria News


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