Talking Point The Gautrain

The mythical Gautrain project has about to commenced! For those of you who have just arrived back from the moon and dont know what the Gautrain is, let us briefly explain the concept.

The Gautrain project involves a modern state-of-the-art rail connection, linking Sandton, Johannesburg, Pretoria and the Johannesburg International Airport (JIA). The network, which will consist of approximately 80 kilometres of railway line and which may be extended in the future, will be made up of two links one between Pretoria and Johannesburg for daily commuters and another from JIA to Sandton for business tourists.

A dedicated service for local and international air passengers will be operated between JIA and Sandton, with decentralized check-in facilities available at the Sandton station. Apart from the three anchor stations at Johannesburg Park Station, Pretoria and JIA, there will initially be seven other stations, namely: Hatfield, Centurion, Midrand, Sandton, Rosebank, Rhodesfield and Marlboro. The project forms part of the Gauteng Provincial Governments Blue IQ initiative. The project is expected to generate numerous benefits for the people of Gauteng, including temporary construction jobs as well as permanent job opportunities. Right, everyone up to speed with what the Gautrain is all about? Great, then full steam ahead.

Now, as great as this project may seem, there are certain problems that have risen during the planning phases. You see, along the route of the Gautrain a total of 1 056 properties will be affected either fully or partially. Of these 1 056 properties, almost 400 are residential properties that will require either full expropriation, partial expropriation or have a servitude registered over them. At least 120 homes will be affected from the 400 properties. Various proclamation and expropriation protocols have been drafted bearing in mind the rights of all interested and affected parties.

If your house will be affected by the construction of the Gautrain, you will apparently be given reasonable time to vacate your property by means of written notices. However, if you want to vacate sooner after the proclamation, arrangements can be made.

According to Dr Barbara Jensen, communications director at the Gautrain Head Office, initial works have commenced. Its preparatory work for construction in the Rosebank and Sandton area which commenced in early September she says. Road closures, traffic diversions and possible disruptions to services will be problematic for the public. Nevertheless, we are attempting to manage these in the best way possible. We have a toll-free contact centre where people can call 0800-gautrain. This service will include a routing tool where people can phone in, give their location and ask to be routed to their desired destination. This will then be done taking into account the roads that are closed, the construction sites, as well as real time traffic information. This routing can be done whilst the caller is on the line or it can be sent in an SMS or MMS format to the caller. The same tool will also be available to people on the website. Therefore you can, before leaving the office, go to the www.gautrain.co.za, mark out in your origin and destination and the routing will then take place. We will also have an SMS service for people who would like to register in order to receive regular traffic updates. In addition to this, a media campaign will also be run and notices will be put up in the vicinity of road closures.

Despite all the potential pitfalls, it will be a system that compares to the best in the world and will transform public transport in Gauteng and South Africa. It will also give us an option when it comes to public transport and make it a mode of choice and not a mode of force. Finally, it will create jobs and significantly grow the economy.

Whether these problems will be so easily smoothed out is yet to be seen. Okay, lets be honest, if theyre sorted out painlessly we will all be impressed. Either way, regardless of the disruptions and problems, the Gautrain is an ambitious and expensive project (costing around R20 billion) that will inevitably give us South Africans something to proud of an efficient public transport system.

Courtesy SA Complex News

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