French-owned public transport operator Régie Autonome des Transports Parisiens (RATP) is confident that the addition of new rolling stock for South Africa’s Gautrain will generate significant benefits for the rapid-rail system.
RATP is a shareholder of the Bombela Operating Company (BOC), which operates the Gautrain.
The Gautrain Management Agency (GMA) is planning to acquire 12 new train sets and will use a R3.5-billion loan from the African Development Bank to fund the acquisition of the new rolling stock.
RATP CEO Elisabeth Borne told Engineering News Online that increasing the Gautrain fleet to 36 trains will provide BOC greater flexibility to manage the maintenance and running of the system.
“It means that not all the trains will have to run at the same time, thereby reducing time lost owing to maintenance and ensuring the lifespan of the trains is extended."
Borne, who is visiting South Africa as part of a delegation led by French Transport Minister Alain Vidalies to strengthen and reaffirm relationships and partnerships between France and South Africa, added that she had used the Gautrain system during her visit, and noted that it comparable to international standards.
“I’m very impressed by its performance and its punctuality. It also has one of the highest levels of security in the world,” she noted.
RATP noted that the system was currently designed for a ten-minute headway; however, the headway time could, in future, be reduced if certain upgrades were made.
“Currently, headway times cannot be reduced owing to infrastructure constraints in terms of the number of trains running on the system. The system needs to be upgraded and significant infrastructure changes need to be made to reduce headway time,” the company said.
The company added that reducing the time between trains would depend on cost, and political decisions would play a role.
“There is always a compromise between the level of technology and service that you want to give people and the final costs.”
RATP added that there are different elements to upgrading the Gautrain system, including infrastructure and network upgrades, and increasing the rolling stock.
Meanwhile, commenting on the proposed expansion of the Gautrain, the company said RATF would be available to offer advice and share its experiences in the development of public transport systems.
The Gautrain has been operating for six years and has transported close to 80-million passengers, significantly improving public transport in the province.