Yesterday a representative of Junk Mail Publishing had the honor of attending an event held at the Gautrain depot in Midrand. Various members of the media were present at the event. The event celebrated the delivery of the 96th and last Gautrain carriage to the Gautrain depot in Midrand.
Those attending were welcomed by Ms Amanda Nair (Chairman of the GMA Board). She pointed out that the first carriage was delivered in South Africa (from the plant in Derby in the UK) on the 5th of December 2008 (exactly 2 years and 2 days to the day). She also stated that those attending the Gautrain Event would be the first ever passengers to take a trip on the Gautrain in Midrand. She also said that the Gautrain track to Pretoria Central station would be electrified on the 20th of December 2010 and that residents in the Pretoria area would be able to spot the train doing test runs on the track soon.
The next speaker was Jerome Govender (CEO of Bombela). He pointed out that 81 of the 96 Gautrain carriages had been manufactured by UCW (Union Carriage and Wagon) in Nigel (on the East Rand). The workers at the company were taken to a plant in Derby in the United Kingdom and given training in late 2008. Up next was Ismail Vadi (Gauteng MEC for Roads and Transport). He stated that the Gautrain was a world class system and that commuters using the system would be Going Green since they would be reducing their Carbon Footprint. He defined the Gautrain as an effective, safe and seamless mode of public transport.
Acting Gauteng Premier MEC Mandla Komfe was up next. He stated that nearly 100,000 direct and indirect jobs had been created by the Gautrain already. He also stated that the citizens of Gauteng are benefiting from the Gautrain already in terms of improved mobility, increased property value (in areas where Guatrain stations are located), improved lifestyle and less stress and time spent on commuting. Komfe also noted that this effect would expand accross the whole of Gauteng in time.
The last carriage arrived on the back of a low bed truck. Some of the Gautrain workers were waving South African flags. Members of the media crowded around the train carriage and were taking photos. Attendees of the Gautrain event boarded the Gautrain at 14:30 at the Gautrain depot in Midrand and took a ride to the Midrand station (which is in close proximity to Grand Central Airport). They were treated to a comfortably seated smooth ride in air-conditioned carriages. The train was almost noiseless and quite fast. At one stage the train was doing +/- 160 km/h. Unfortunately attendees could not get off at the Midrand station (since its still under construction).
Phase one of the Gautrain system is already operational (running from the OR Tambo International Airport to Sandton). The balance of the 80 km route (stretching from Marlboro to Pretoria and from Sandton to Johannesburg) is expected to open at the end of June 2011.
You might also want to check out the previous posts about the Gautrain on the Junk Mail blog: