The Gautrain is a state-of-the-art 80-kilometre mass rapid transit rail network in the Gauteng province of South Africa. The two links of this upcoming rail system will connect Pretoria with Johannesburg and the OR Tambo International Airport with Sandton. This contemporary form of transport aims to reduce the traffic congestion on the busy Johannesburg-Pretoria corridor and offer the people of the country an international means of public transport with a high degree of reliability, comfort and safety while maintaining the utmost environment-friendly standards.
At full throttle, the train will travel at speeds of 160 to 180 kilometres per hour and will cover the distance between Johannesburg and Pretoria in less than 40 minutes. The services will also include buses to move commuters between various stations and prominent places in the city.
Phase 1 of the project, which includes the services between Sandton station and the OR Tambo International Airport as well as a commuter service between Sandton and Rhodesfield, was opened for commercial service in June 2010.
Gautrain and GIS
GIS has been an indispensable component in the development of the Gautrain, right from planning to the construction phase. During the planning stage, GIS was used to classify the land parcels that would be affected by the proposed route of the train so that the required land could be acquired effectively.
GIS was also used in several other areas of the project such as to assist in the environmental impact assessment of the project to chalk out a possible route for the train. Once the process of assessing a tentative route was completed, it had to be communicated to the people so that the people could know if their land would be affected. A website was developed for the same that made use of GIS technology. The entire process had to be completed before the train’s route could be finalised and the tenders awarded to various companies for building the train.
Having played a vital role in the determination and communication of the Gautrain route, GIS was also extensively used during the construction phases. To effectively manage road closures and diversions during construction, a website was developed that offered people the option of inputting the origin and destination addresses and getting the directions sent to them through SMS. The Gautrain call centre personnel were also provided with a similar system so that they could assist people in finding out an alternative route to reach their destinations in case of diversions.
Another, highly important service was also carried out with the help of GIS during the initial stages. GIS was used to chalk out the routes of hundreds of feeder buses intended to take passengers from various parts of the city to the nearby Gautrain stations.
GIS has been an extremely vital component in the development of the Gautrain rapid transit rail network and will continue to be used extensively in various other projects being built around the Gautrain.