The construction of the alignment, bridges and tunnels of the Gautrain project which commenced in September 2006 constituted a civil engineering project of immense proportions:
- 6 million cubic meters of cut-to-fill earthworks,
- 15 km of tunnels (3km of which were drilled using a tunnel boring machine (TBM),
- 16 viaducts with a total length exceeding 10 km,
- Approximately 50 bridges,
- Over 100 000 cubic meters of concrete,
- 10 stations with 10 000 car parking bays.
The track itself has been laid to European Standard (1435mm) gauge using continuously welded rail and concrete sleepers. In the tunnels, low vibration concrete slab track has been installed to minimize vibrations which could be transmitted to nearby buildings. The rails are elastically supported throughout to reduce noise and vibration levels. Additional noise barriers are provided where required along the route.
A fleet of 96 vehicles based on the tried and tested Electrostar train-set already in common service in the UK, has been supplied for the Gautrain. These have been formed into four-car sets which carries up to 450 passengers per train, and run at up to 160km/h (100mph).
Most of the vehicles have been manufactured at Bombardier's facilities in the UK, shipped to South Africa in knock-down form and then assembled locally by the UCW Partnership in Nigel. The fleet is based at a purpose built maintenance facility located at Midrand, just south of Allandale road.
Traction power consists of 25kV AC supplied through overhead catenaries. The feed is derived from two different Eskom sub-stations with built-in redundancy.
Signalling and Communications
An operational control centre located at the Midrand depot controls all train movements as well as comprises a communications and control hub for the monitoring and control of the bus feeder system and key station and tunnel equipment.
The signaling solution comprises Bombardier's CITYFLO 250 system which is a fixed block signaling system based on ‘distance to go' principles with vital information being transmitted to the onboard automatic train protection (ATP) system from balises in the track. The ATP supervises the driver and train movements. Communication points have been provided at stations for passenger information and safety.
Safety and Security
With safety and security being central to Gautrain's offering, Bombela's Integrated Safety and Security programme covers all scenarios of degraded and emergency operations of the system. System safety has been independently certified by the Railway Safety Regulator who also retains an ongoing oversight role.
Bombela has developed a number of important measures to ensure the security of the Gautrain system:
- 750 CCTV cameras provides records coverage of all stations and trains as well as key locations along the route;
- 24-hour security guard presence in all stations and parking areas;
- Continuous satellite tracking of all feeder and distributor buses; and
- Secure fencing along the route to prevent unauthorized access and vandalism of critical system assets.
Fares and Ticketing
Gautrain has a balanced approach in its fare policy aimed at making the service attractive and affordable to broad sectors of the population. In principle, Gautrain fares are lower than the cost of using a private car for the same journey but more expensive than those of existing taxi and rail fares.
The fare collection system is based on a state-of-the art contactless smart-card (CSC) system which enables customers to load a variety of different journey products, ranging from single trips to monthly tickets, onto the same card and to re-use the same card over and over again. Customers have the opportunity to register their cards which enables immediate blacklisting of the card should it be lost or stolen. Any un-utilized value on the lost card can then be transferred to a new card.
CSC's are available from all ticket offices and ticket vending machines at Gautrain Stations as well as from selected off-site retailers. The CSC system allows seamless transfers between Gautrain's bus, train and parking services. Customers using more than one service within a single journey enjoy a reduced fare.
Additional information may be accessed by visiting
Fast Facts - Operations
- Operational hours
5h30 to 20h30, 7 days a week
- Journey time
Hatfield to Park Station: 42 minutes
Sandton to Airport: 15 minutes
- Train intervals and availability
12 minutes at peak hours
20-30 minutes off-peak and at weekends
Train availability targets: 99.5%, punctually: 99%
Additional information on the Gautrain Project may be accessed at