The Gautrain has been in operation for nearly half a year, and it has proven to be an excellent way to zip around Joburg.
The Gautrain operates out of four stations at present: OR Tambo Airport, Rhodesfield (Kempton Park), Marlboro (next to Alexandra township) and Sandton.
The ticket prices vary from R16.50 (Sandton to Malboro) to R100 on the airport route. The latter is clearly priced for air passengers as it works out pretty steep for daily commuters.
For commuters from the East Rand, the Rhodesfield station is placed just on the opposite side of the R21 highway facing the airport. So it is still in a central location yet offers no easy means for price conscious air travellers to schlep their luggage across the highway and avoid the higher price of the airport route. Rhodesfield also intersects with the Metrorail train system. The old Metrorail system already connects many of the East Rand’s suburbs and industrial areas such as Boksburg, Benoni, Daveyton and Jet Park.
The Sandton station is a high-tech underground marvel that is located adjoining the Sandton library/Sandton Square/Sandton City/Michaelangelo block. This makes for an attractive connection for tourists as they can directly move from the airport to this node where there are many hotels. Sandton is of course also a hub of commercial activity and therefore its station offers a good option to commuters working for one of the many companies in the area.
Buses operate from the Sandton station to areas like Rosebank, Rivonia and Fourways. Though currently more famous for being empty, the buses do greatly increase the Gautrain’s attractiveness by connecting commuters to additional areas.
The additional stations planned are Park Station (central Johannesburg), Rosebank, Midrand, Centurion, Pretoria and Hatfield. All are due to open during the course of 2011.