The Gautrain rail cars are safe, comfortable, quiet, reliable high-speed train cars perfectly suited to the needs of the modern rail commuter passenger.

  • The rail cars (coaches) are based on the highly successful Electrostar rail car produced by Bombardier. The Electrostar is used extensively in the UK following its introduction in 1999. Since then, it has become the most popular new rail car being supplied in the UK.
  • The Eurostar is among the leaders in its class in terms of reliability and availability during in-service operation.
  • The rail car is fabricated extensively from aluminium leading to a low mass which in turn leads to reduced energy consumption during operations. The state-of-the-art design incorporates crash- and crush-worthiness fully compliant with modern day safety requirements.
  • A typical Gautrain Train Unit will comprise of four rail cars. The first and last cars are streamlined and either can accommodate the driver, depending upon the desired direction of operation of the train. The central two cars are identical in appearance except for the absence of the driver’s cab and the streamlined nose.
  • To permit safe operation at the required speeds of up to 160 km/h and to provide the maximum levels of passenger safety, whilst eliminating the need for costly and extensive re-engineering of the rail cars, the Gautrain will run on standard railway gauge of 1435mm as opposed to the Cape gauge of 1065mm used extensively elsewhere in South Africa. This means that the rail cars as used in the UK will be supplied virtually unchanged from those in extensive, safe, service in the UK.
  • Standard gauge railways comprise about 60% of the length of all railways, worldwide resulting in the lowest cost rail cars available internationally. Cape gauge accounts for about 9% of the world total.
  • Each four car train unit can accommodate 321 seated and 138 standing passengers. When additional passenger capacity is required, two four car train units can be coupled together to provide double the capacity.
  • The front two cars of train units on the Airport service from Sandton will be especially fitted out to provide more spacious and comfortable seating and luggage racks near each door. The two airport cars will have a seated capacity for 110 passengers.
  • Every rail car rides on two bogies, one at either end. Each bogie comprises two axles with a total of four wheels. Thus each rail car is supported on four axles and eight wheels. The primary suspension is steel springs overlain by an air suspension system, giving a very comfortable and smooth ride. The air suspension system has self levelling capabilities to ensure precise matching of rail car floor levels with platform levels, thus allowing easy access and exit for rail passengers, including those with disabilities.
  • The rail cars are extremely quiet in operation with a maximum interior noise level estimated at 70 dBA at 160 km/h. The interior noise levels of the average modern passenger car at 120 km/h range from 66 dBA to 74dBA.
  • The rail cars are known as Electric Multiple Units (EMUs) and will be powered from overhead electrification wires at a voltage of 25kVac.
  • An EMU allows distributed power along the train and in the case of the Gautrain, twelve of the sixteen axles of a four car train unit are provided with 200kW electric motors (a motorisation ratio of 75%), leading to a relative high power to weight ratio of approximately 11 kW per ton. This power to weight ratio ensures the high levels of acceleration and deceleration required to achieve the required maximum journey times specified of 42 minutes from Johannesburg Park station to Hatfield station.
  • Having distributed power allows the train to climb gradients significantly steeper than on the national rail network. The direct alignment needed to achieve the shortest distance between the specified stations requires gradients of up to 4% which is significantly steeper than normal railway main line gradients which are normally restricted to 1,5% or occasionally 2% in special instances. The Gautrain has a motorisation ratio of 75% which could allow it to climb gradients in excess of 10%.
  • The use of a high voltage alternating current (ac) system permits the entire Gautrain system to be fed from a single electrical traction substation which will be located at the Gautrain Midrand Depot. The traction substation will be provided with two independent supplies from Eskom to ensure reliability of electrical power supply.
  • All train units will be provided with blended braking systems. Once it is decided to brake a train, the system first goes into regenerative braking mode, thus using its electric motors as brakes. The electrical power is then supplied back into the overhead lines and can then be used by other trains in the system that are accelerating or are otherwise in a power receptive (consuming) mode. Should there be no receptive trains, then the power will be fed back to Eskom supply, thus ensuring efficient electrical usage characteristics throughout the system. Should higher levels of braking be required this can be provided by the motors, the system then automatically applies the disc brakes. Disc brakes are provided on all wheels and the configuration is similar to advanced modern motor vehicle disc braking systems, being fitted with an Anti-skid Braking System (ABS).
  • All train units will be provided with Automatic Train Protection (ATP). The ATP system is programmed with the maximum permissible operating speed for every metre of the track and will automatically brake the train if it travels more than 3km/h faster than the pre-set speed for that particular point. In extreme cases, the ATP will automatically brake the train to a standstill without driver intervention.
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