Gautrain agency mulls expansions, longer operating hours
Monday, 23 Apr 2012
Rail projects are, by their very nature, time consuming and slow moving, adds Van der Merwe.
"Remember, we started with the current Gautrain system in 2000 and the final leg is only opening now, in 2012."
Van der Merwe also emphasises that any new expansion will have to make economic sense to the Gauteng government.
"We have acquired an enormous pool of talent and skills in building the Gautrain. It would make sense to see what else we can do with these expertise," he adds.
Van der Merwe’s own expertise has again been signed up by the Gauteng government, with the GMA CEO’s contract expanded to the end of 2014.
As for the current Gautrain system, Van der Merwe is hopeful some of the more persistent issues around the rail link, raised by its users, will soon find a solution.
Additional capacity has recently been added to the morning and evening peaks, but a significant portion of commuters are frustrated by the system’s operating hours, which they would like to see extended to earlier in the morning and later at night.
Van der Merwe has some good news for these Gautrain users.
"It is a done deal that we have to have longer operating hours, it is only a question of when and how. We are looking at this. We are currently negotiating about the costs involved to achieve this."
Much of the anticipated costs will come from additional shifts and staff, as well as decreased maintenance time available to the operator, Bombela.
Again, says Van der Merwe, extending the operating hours has to make economic sense.
He adds that one-third of the current Gautrain users are off-peak users, suggesting that the system is not only a work-home-work mode of transport.
Van der Merwe is hopeful the remaining leg of the Gautrain route, running between Rosebank station and Park station, in downtown Johannesburg, will open "some time in May".
"The contractor still has some work to do to bring the water ingress to within the required specification. Opening the link depends on the speed at which the contractor works."