Gautrain gets into gear

Posted On Wednesday, 04 February 2009 02:00 Published by Eprop Commercial Property News
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Around 150 guests including government and media set off from Midrand on the first trip aboard the rapid-moving Gautrain, whose arrival could transform the transport industry.

Gautrain ProjectAround 150 guests including government and media set off from Midrand on Tuesday on the first trip aboard the rapid-moving Gautrain, whose arrival could transform the transport industry.

Leaving the depot in Midrand photographers clambered to take pictures of the immaculately clean gold and blue train which silently set off in the direction of Pretoria with barely a rumble as it reached 80km per hour.

Bordering the train tracks construction workers and emergency personnel also reached for their cellphones to take photographs of the historic trip.

Seated on the blue covered chairs in the carriages were members of the Gauteng government, Bombela concession executives and a large contingent of media.

Earlier as the rain pelted down and the thunder echoed over the depot, Gauteng premier Paul Mashatile said it was a welcome blessing.

"It's raining again so it means we are truly blessed," he said referring to the good omens granted over rainy African weddings.

Speaking before the train embarked on its repeat 3km trip, Mashatile said the project would radically transform the transport industry.

The event, marking the ceremonial home-coming of the first completed train set to its operational home in Midrand, was lauded as a groundbreaking milestone.

"Our golden train is now finally where it belongs. And although Gautrain's physical home is here in Gauteng, her real home is in the heart and minds of all South Africans."

The first completed four-car train set, which was assembled in the United Kingdom, was handed over to Gautrain's political committee at the Derby plant in July 2008.

The first shipment of two completed rail cars arrived in December last year and was then transported to Gauteng.

"Gautrain is the birth of a new legacy in public transport and what we will see here today is the realisation of this legacy," Mashatile said.

Disembarking from the train guests marvelled at the silent trip and expressed passion about the train and what it would bring to the transport industry.

The interior noise was attributed to layer dampening which reduced vibrations as well as the streamlined shape to lower wind noise.

The nose of the train apparently was a point of much discussion as it was designed not only for practical reasons but also, as Gautrain Management Agency CEO Jack van der Merwe glowingly commented: "It gives the perception of speed."

"We knew this train had to fast and had to be perceived as fast.

"This is really an African beauty I think we can be proud of," he said.

MEC for local government Qedani Mahlangu, a member of the political committee, also took to the podium saying the committee had given input throughout the project.

Jokingly commenting on the nose she re-counted a past conversation in which it had been said: "Why should it be as flat as Mbhazima's [Shilowa, the former premier of the province]."

Transport MEC Ignatius Jacobs also lauded the first Gautrain trip as a victory saying it was a "dream on wheels".

Referring briefly to the ongoing Gauteng bus subsidy legal wrangle he said he hoped the judge who was involved in the matter was proud of the positive milestone that had been reached.

"I'm sure this judge will be very proud of the train we are unveiling today."

The Gautrain rail fleet will comprise 96 rail cars operated initially in four-car train sets. Fifteen of the rail cars including 10 customised cars destined for the airport service are being manufactured in the United Kingdom and would be shipped to South Africa over the next four months.

The remaining 81 would be completed and assembled in South Africa.

The route between Sandton and OR Tambo airport is expected to be completed in mid-2010, just in time for the FIFA Soccer World Cup.


Last modified on Thursday, 31 October 2013 20:41

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