Posted on Mar 30, 2003 in Media Releases
MEC Jabu Moleketi, MEC for Finance and Economic Affairs.
When opening the Gauteng Legislature two days ago, Premier Mbazima Shilowa gave a brief update on the SDI Rail Link which he announced a year ago. He referred to the employment creation and economic development potential of the project, indicating that it has the potential to create and sustain an estimated 42 000 direct job opportunities and a further 39 000 indirect job opportunities through downstream impacts. It will also have a direct positive impact on the Gross Geographical Product of the Province. Excellent progress has been achieved with this project over the last year.
his project involves a modern state-of-the-art rail connection, linking Johannesburg, Pretoria and Johannesburg International Airport. It is planned to successfully compete with the private motor car by providing safe, secure, comfortable and fast services, which would also be acceptable to the international tourist. The trip between Johannesburg and Pretoria would take less than 38 minutes, which would be much shorter than the current peak period travel time between the two cities.
A rail ticket will cost less than travel by motor car, even though it will be slightly more than existing public transport. It will not only reduce traffic congestion but also provide an environmentally friendlier travel alternative. As part of the project a comprehensive feeder and distribution system is planned at all stations. There will further be sufficient and safe parking facilities at all these stations. The system will also provide access to the existing rail network, inter alia links with Johannesburg Park Station and the Pretoria Ring Rail System. Good progress has been made with the technical planning of the project.
In October last year the Provincial Cabinet selected two alternative routes for further investigation and Cabinet is presently considering a report on a preferred route. This route will be announced in due course. Surveys were done to determine under which conditions motorists would be willing to use such a rail service. Subsequently ridership forecasts were done with the assistance of international experts. These forecasts indicate a ridership potential of 70 000 passengers per day which is well over the international norm for the introduction of a new rail service. Current planning provide for the main stations to be located in Johannesburg CBD, Rosebank, Sandton, Midrand, Centurion, Pretoria CBD, Hatfield and Kempton Park, with an extensive feeder and distributor system linking a wide range of other areas to the system.
Provision is also made for future expansion of the network. Major emphasis will be placed on facilitating appropriate commercial development around stations. Extensive consultation has taken place with all government spheres and other major role players, including the existing rail transport authorities and operators. An Environmental Impact Assessment will commence soon and will include a comprehensive public and stakeholder consultation process.
An initial environmental feasibility assessment indicated that at this stage there are no evident environmental fatal flaws in this project. A socio-economic impact analysis determined the potential benefits of the project with regard to matters such as job creation, economic growth and a wide range of other benefits, far outweighing the cost of the project. International liaison over the past year also indicated substantial interest in the project with the likelihood of significant foreign direct investment. Over the next few months further refinement will be done with regard to the technical planning and feasibility analysis.
An investors conference is planned for April or May 2001, where after a pre-qualification tender process will commence. The tender process, evaluation and final negotiations will take up most of this and next year, and it is planned that the actual construction of the project will start in the beginning of 2003.
The first trains could run in 2006. In conclusion it must be noted that this project is not only an important transport project in the fastest developing corridor in the country, but as one of the 10 SDI projects, it is focussed on stimulating economic development in our province and in our country. It is also planned to actively promote a whole range of strategic government objectives, such as the promotion of tourism, SMME-development, private sector participation and investment, and empowerment.
Issued on behalf of:
Department of Transport and Public Works, Gauteng
For more information contact:
Jack vd Merwe
Gautrain Project Leader