Collectors item ?

Have I mentioned my absolute dislike of the big cities? If not, I’ll just restate quickly that I absolutely hate them, the rush, the traffic, the insular attitudes, the crowds, I’m sure that there’s more but you get the picture.

I had to go to Johannesburg last week for a couple of meetings, I’d tried so hard to get out of the trip but the supplier / principle insisted and so reluctantly I booked my ticket. 9:00am flight up 15:45pm flight back.

In brief I was collected from O.R.Tambo (newspeak for Jhb international or Jan Smuts for those of you with longer memories) precisely on time, whisked off to Springs for a presentation and demo, then off to Rosebank for another and finally to Orange Grove for a quick lunch.

Needless to say up until the lunch everything had gone meticulously to my rather cramped schedule, then some old friends heard that I was in town, tracked me down and joined me at the club we were at.

I’m now running late for my 15:45 flight, we’ll never get there in time, not with the Jhb traffic, ‘not to worry’ someone says ‘get the train.’

The Gautrain (you guys can pronounce it How-train if you have difficulty with the G) is Jhb’s new high speed inter city / suburb rail-link.

Sparkling new train and platform

I was impressed, I’ve travelled on the systems in London and Paris, been on the Eorostar and the Dublin Luas none of them have a patch on this, fair enough this is brand new, state of the art and only recently commissioned but what a train, what a system.

The train whizzed along at 160Kph (100Mph) and dropped me off inside the airport building (2 floors above international arrivals) it was a short walk to my check-in where I was informed that I’d missed the boarding check-in time by 5 minutes. a very nice (young) lady spoke to me, made a phone call, I was emphasising that I had no luggage and they let me on.

Back in P.E. by 5:30.

11 thoughts on “Gautrain”

  1. After Hong Kong and the MTR, Singapore and the MRT, the Tube here in London sucks big time. To be fair, the system is based on an infrastructure laid out for a late 19th/20th Century city, but the main problem seems to me to be that the system is still run as a railway, rather than a mass transit system.

  2. Hi Soutie, I have yet to travel on Gautrain. I am glad you were impressed by it.

    Bravo, the Tube does, as you say, have the disadvantage having been designed 150 years ago, but I think it has improved immeasurably in the past 10 years in terms of frequency and reliability and I think the bus system is brilliant. With an Oyster card one can nip on and off buses that are clean, quick and which arrive at regular and frequent intervals. At least that is how I found things when I was there two weeks ago.

  3. The main problem with the London Tube is that it is (a) totally overcrowded, (b) up to half of it is shut down at weekends for maintenance work. Also, the fares are too high. I am not suggesting they should be subsidised, but that, like anything run in the public sector, they are hugely inefficient, even though this is the sort of thing that is ideal to be run by it.

    Begs the question as to how the Gautrain was paid for, but it does look good.

  4. I agree about the buses – much easier and more convenient than the Tube – and even more so now that the Google maps extension for bus routes and timings has gone live.

  5. Howzit Sipu

    Anybody travelling to either Pretoria (the line to Hatfield opened 2 days before my trip!) Jhb’s northern suburbs or downtown would be idiots to hassle friends or relatives for a lift, my one way ticket (the card) from Marlboro (northern Jhb) to the airport was R 115.00 (£10) worth every cent.

  6. FeEg

    Cost about R25 billion (£2 billion), guaranteed by the government with Bombela Concession Company a joint venture partner who own a 20 year concession for its operation.

    More about them here (Gautrain concessionaire) and here (Gautrain subsidy ‘is an accepted financial model’)

  7. The Hong Kong MTR is brilliant. Taiwan has excellent public transportation as well, Japan’s is not to be forgotten, either. Germany’s isn’t bad, but not as good as one would think. It’s better than in the UK, but…
    The worst I’ve dealt with has been the San Francisco Muni. It’s very poorly designed and unreliable. I pay an additional 10 dollars monthly to use the regional transport in the city. it’s filthy, poorly designed, and run-down but at least it is fast. I can often get across the city in half the time. This was designed only 30 years ago, but it hasn’t held up well. Still, anything is better than the bus — the most unpleasant form of public transportation.

    Still, it’s nice to see that this train is around. South Africa’s an interesting country, it is always refreshing to hear good things that happen there, not just the bad.

  8. Janus

    Johannesburg and Pretoria are situated in Gauteng Province (renamed from Transvaal in 1994, Gauteng being Sesotho for Place of gold)

    It’s just the southern part of the old Transvaal, an area we used to call PWV (Pretoria Witwatersrand and Vereeniging) back in the old days. Witwatersrand being greater Jhb.

    So, Gauteng train = Gautrain 😉

    More on the name, history and correct pronunciation here (wiki)

  9. Seriously impressive, Soutie.

    I share your horror with regard to cities: I really don’t like them either.

    Perhaps it’s an age thing, I used to love London, but I avoid it like the plague these days.

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