The Golden Train for People on the Move


Gautrain is creating a new and unprecedented legacy in public transport for the people of Gauteng.

On 8 June 2010 Gautrain commenced its 15-minute, 20 km airport link from Sandton to OR Tambo International Airport. The stations included in this link are: Sandton Station, Marlboro Station, Rhodesfield Station and OR Tambo International Airport Station. In addition, Gautrain’s dedicated bus services are also available to transport passengers to and from Sandton and Rhodesfield stations. Using the best commuter rail technology available in the world today, Gautrain will become the transport mode of choice for the upwardly mobile citizens of Gauteng. Providing an 80 km rapid rail link between three of the province’s most vibrant economic metropolitans, namely Ekurhuleni, Pretoria and Johannesburg, the golden train will bring jobs to people and people to jobs.

The success of Gautrain expands far beyond the hundreds of passengers who rely on the system daily as a quick, green and safe mode of transport. The biggest impact of Gautrain has been the lives of families that have improved as the project provided thousands of jobs and brought new streams of revenue to small businesses. The project has also made a significant contribution to the transferring of skills to local people as South Africans work alongside their global counterparts. At the end of June 2010, Gautrain had already created or sustained an estimated total of 96 600 direct, indirect, and induced jobs to date, of which more than 27 600 are local direct jobs.

For the citizens of Gauteng, the economic heartbeat of South Africa, Gautrain will also inspire a whole new lifestyle in which people conveniently work, seek entertainment and find places of residence along Gautrain’s route. This new lifestyle will also be enhanced by the fact that Gautrain will be integrated with other forms of public transport. As a result, Gautrain has become an important catalyst for a new, high-density urban landscape and inner city rejuvenation. Gautrain is a key driver in the economic and land development of Gauteng. Knowing that people will rely on efficient door-to-door transport in the near future, the areas along Gautrain’s route are rapidly developing into high-density urban areas. These also comprise mixed-use developments which integrate high-rise office towers, hotels, shopping centres and apartments. In turn, a high-density urban landscape will become more conducive to public transport.

Key Features 

  • Ten stations on an 80 kilometre route, between five and eight kilometres apart
  • 24 separate four-car train sets which allow a more than adequate stand-by margin
  • The two forward rail cars on the airport service will comprise special airport cars with fewer but wider and more luxurious seats and special areas for baggage storage near the doors.
  • To increase capacity after the initial period, an increasing number of train sets will be operated as eight-car train sets, comprising two four-car units coupled together.
  • A maximum speed of 160 kilometres per hour
  • Only 15 minutes between OR Tambo International Airport Station and Sandton Station
  • Only 42 minutes between Johannesburg Park Station and Hatfield in Tshwane
  • Trains every 12 minutes during peak periods during the first three years; thereafter, at ten minute intervals during these peak periods
  • Quick 30- to 45-second stops at stations
  • Tight security on trains and stations through access control, electronic surveillance (over 650 CCTV cameras) and visible policing
  • Bus feeder and distributor services for passengers up to ten kilometres from stations. The bus and train schedules will be synchronised
  • Passengers can transfer easily between Gautrain and other forms of transport, such as the new Bus Rapid Transport services, planes, taxis, Metrorail trains and cars
  • Park-and-ride facilities with more than 10 000 parking bays at stations
  • Smart card electronic ticketing needing only one ticket for the train, bus and parking

World-class airport link

A quick, 15-minute airport connection will run between Sandton Station and the OR Tambo International Airport at the same frequency as the rest of the system. This service is modelled after the operations of a select group of global cities that successfully offer rapid rail links to international airports. Design features at Sandton Station and the interiors of airport coaches will accommodate the needs of passengers who need to carry luggage.

Safety and security

  • Tight security on trains and stations is maintained through access control – only ticket holders can access station precincts.
  • Electronic surveillance with over 650 Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras.
  • Visible policing.
  • Two CCTV cameras per coach will record to an on-board DVD system. While images are stored locally they may also be viewed inside the driver’s cab.
  • Two-way passenger emergency communication between alarm units inside the coaches and the driver.
  • In the event of an accident, security threat, power failure or other emergency, alarm systems will register at the Operational Control Centre located in the maintenance Depot for the immediate despatching of the necessary safety, repair and emergency services. There is direct communication with all the relevant authorities, such as the South African Police Services and the Gauteng Provincial Disaster Management Centre.

 World Class Comfort

  • 24 Trains ride on air suspension to ensure smooth travel at 160 kilometres per hour.
  • Heating, ventilation and air conditioning enhances comfort.
  • Attractive upholstery that is durable and easy to clean. Upholstery and carpets have been custom designed for Gautrain.
  • Easy access for children, mobility impaired commuters, shoppers with heavy bags and the elderly. On-level boarding without a height difference or a gap between the train and the platform.
  • Each train has a section allocated to wheelchairs. The entire Gautrain system will also accommodate mobility-, sight-, and hearing-impaired passengers.
  • Cleaning personnel as well as an automatic train washing plant will ensure that trains are kept clean inside and out.
  • Design features at Sandton Station and the interiors of airport coaches will accommodate the needs of passengers who need to carry luggage.

 Real time passenger information

  • Passenger information displays inside trains and on stations.
  • Bright yellow LEDs fitted to the front of the train will display the destination of each train.
  • Two display units inside each train with updates on the train’s destination, progress along the route and notifications as stations are approached.
  • In the unlikely event of delays, train drivers and conductors will be able to broadcast announcements using the train’s public address system.


  • Only 15 minutes between OR Tambo International Airport Station and Sandton Station
  • Only 42 minutes between Johannesburg Park Station and Hatfield in Pretoria
  • Trains every 12 minutes during peak hours, thereafter a train every 20 minutes.
  • Bus service for passengers up to ten kilometres from stations
  • The first train will be available daily at 05:30 and the last train will depart not earlier than 20:30.
  • Gautrain fares will be lower than the cost of using a private car for the same journey but more expensive than those of existing taxi and rail fares.
  • Commuters can transfer easily between Gautrain and other forms of transport, such as Bus Rapid Transport services, taxis, Metrorail trains and cars

 Smart ticketing 

  • State-of-the-art contactless smart-cards will enable commuters to load single trips or monthly tickets onto the same credit card-sized card.
  • The same card can be used over and over again without having to buy a new ticket for each journey.
  • Commuters will simply hold a smart card near to a Gautrain card reader at all stations, parkades and bus entrances and exists in order for the system to register their journeys.
  • Seamless transfers between Gautrain’s bus, train and parking services. Reduced fares for commuters using more than one service within a single journey.
  • Smart cards will be available from all Gautrain station ticket offices and ticket vending machines. Retailers will also stock Gautrain smart cards.
  • No need to carry cash. Cash will not be accepted on buses or at the fare gates.
  • Smart cards can be uploaded using coins, cash, debit card, credit card and by direct debit from a bank account, either manually or automatically by prior agreement.

 High-tech monitoring of trains

  • Computerised technology will monitor every component of the rail system, including all stations, trains and the entire fleet of 125 buses dedicated to Gautrain commuters.
  • Central control of the system is managed from the operational control centre situated at the depot near Midrand.
  • A fully computerised rail signalling system will be managed from the operational control centre.
  • Efficient signalling will prevent train-to-train collisions and ensure safe movements at switches and crossings as well as maintaining safe train headways.
  • An automatic train protection system will monitor the trains’ speed. Should the driver exceed the posted speed limit at any point by more than three kilometres per hour, an alarm will sound in his cab. At more than six kilometres per hour above the posted speed limit the train’s service brakes will be automatically applied to slow the train to below the posted speed limit. The system also has the ability to bring a train safely to a stop in the unlikely event that a driver is incapacitated.
  • Extensive testing and commissioning as well as training is being carried out on the test track.

 Project timeline

Construction started at the end of September 2006. Gautrain will be completed in two phases:

  • The first phase will be completed over 45 months. It includes the network between the OR Tambo International Airport and Sandton, and includes the stations at OR Tambo, Rhodesfield, Marlboro and Sandton, together with the Depot and Operations Control Centre located south of Allandale Road in Midrand.
  • The second phase is scheduled for completion in 54 months, by the end of March 2011. It comprises the balance of the north-south rail network and stations linking Sandton to Park Station in Johannesburg and the route from Marlboro, past the Depot and on to Pretoria and Hatfield stations.