“Transport is really an enabler for the economy, so the government felt it was prudent to look at a 25 year plan,” Jack van der Merwe, chief executive officer of the Gautrain Management Agency told CNBC Africa.
The Gautrain is Africa's first world-class, modern rapid rail and bus service located in the business hub of South Africa, Gauteng.
Van der Merwe explained that their 25 year integrated master plan for Gauteng comprises of three shift objectives. A shift from motorised transport to non-motorised transport, a shift from private car use to public transport use and lastly, a shift from road to rail.
“With that as a background, rail becomes the backbone of the transport system,” said van der Merwe.
The three main areas for the new route will include the City of Tshwane, Johannesburg and the Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality in the East Rand area.
“We’ve looked at where people will live in future and the area between Tshwane, Johannesburg and Ekurhuleni, that block is where people are going to be allocated,” he explained.
Their priority rail to construct, he added, is a 45 degree route in the Western Bypass of Johannesburg that will have underground links from Sandton, Randburg and Ruimsig due to the heavy traffic congestion that currently exists in that region.
“In Johannesburg, you’ve seen that all the developments have jumped over the Western Bypass and there’s a whole block of people living there and that’s why the western Bypass is so congested during the day,” he explained.
While the 140km expansion plan is ready to commence, approval still needs to be obtained from the provincial government and local authorities. Funding is also a major obstacle that will need to be resolved.
However, van der Merwe stated that the existing Gautrain infrastructure is funded by five sources from within the private and public sectors and these sources will need to be reutilised for the expansion plans.
“These five sources will be utilised again, which is dual funding between the private and government sector,” he added.
Once funding has been sorted, detailed designs and plans will be drawn and an environmental impact assessment will be conducted.
“We hope to start building [the new routes] in three to five years,” said van der Merwe.