Gautrain hailed for creating jobs

Johannesburg - South Africa's first rapid rail network, Gautrain, created more than 1000 direct jobs since the project got off the ground two years ago, officials said.

It comes as the Gautrain team celebrated the arrival of its last rail car and the first public trip between the Midrand depot and Midrand on Tuesday.

All the 96 rail cars have now been completed since the first carriage was shipped in all the way from Derby, United Kingdom in 2008. About 81 of the cars had been locally produced at the Union Carriage and Wagon (UCW) Partnership in Nigel.

The second phase of the project is expected to be completed in mid 2011 when the route linking Sandton, Roseburg and the Johannesburg CBD is expected to be up and running.

Speaking at the event, Gauteng Roads and Transport MEC Ismail Vadi said the arrival of the last rail car marked an important milestone for the Gautrain which is seen as an important player in the country's public transport system.

"It's a proud moment for South Africa and it's a proud moment for Gauteng because by travelling with Gautrain it means you are travelling green," Vadi said.

The train's environmentally-friendly design has been hailed as a big boost for South Africa's contribution to carbon emission in light of the looming global warming. Vadi said Gautrain has also helped reduce traffic congestion at South Africa's busiest province with an estimated eight million cars on Johannesburg's roads.

Acting Premier and Finance MEC Mandla Nkomfe said by the end of October more than R3 million had been spent on procurement of locally produced goods for the Gautrain while a further R2 million went towards local SMMEs involved in the project.

"So for us this project has not only helped to address our social challenges of unemployment but manages to stimulate economic growth in Gauteng". There was no doubt that Gautrain marked the beginning of a new era in the country's passenger rail network.

The CEO of the Bombela Concession Company, Jerome Govender, attributed the success of the project to a "wonderful" partnership between the private sector and government. It is this team effort ensured that the service was up and running during the recent soccer world cup.

"For us it's very important to note all the men and women who had worked so hard to ensure that we delivered the first phase in time for our world cup and we are very proud f everyone," he said. - BuaNews