SOUTH AFRICA: Test running has started in earnest on the 20 km first phase of the Gautrain line between Sandton and OR Tambo International Airport. Opening has been set for June 8, subject to a final technical 'go/no-go' decision in April.
The original timescale would have seen the Bombela consortium complete Phase 1 by June 27. However, after the project began South Africa was selected to host the FIFA World Cup, and the provincial government was keen to see the opening brought forward so that the line could handle some of the football traffic. The cost of accelerating the work was initially too high for the government, but agreement has been reached to launch a reduced-scope service at no extra cost.
Phase 2 is scheduled for completion in 2011. Extending the line north from Sandton to Pretoria and Hatfield and south to Park station in Johannesburg, this will take Gautrain to 80 route-km.