THE Gautrain service in Johannesburg was restored shortly before midday on Wednesday after it had earlier broken down between Park Station and Sandton, leaving thousands of passengers stranded and having to use alternative transport.
Gautrain spokesperson Kesagee Nayager issued a statement shortly before noon to say: ” We are pleased to advise that the train service between Sandton & Park Station is now fully operational. We apologise for the inconvenience caused and thank our passengers for their understanding & support.”
The service had earlier ground to a halt because of a “technical difficulty”.
Gautrain management had released a statement saying the first train to depart from OR Tambo International Airport had been delayed by an hour due to technical difficulty, and that train services between Sandton and Park stations were temporarily disrupted.
Some passengers had to face the grim possibility of missing their flights as services from Park Station and Pretoria to OR Tambo International Airport, South Africa’s busiest airport, were delayed.
A second statement from Gautrain said they were attending to the technical difficulty that was caused by “a train that failed in the Sandton vicinity”.
Gautrain then appealed to passengers travelling between Sandton, Rosebank and Park stations to make alternate transport arrangements. Gautrain buses replaced some train services although passengers travelling between Sandton and Park stations were advised to make their own alternate arrangements. This left some passengers feeling like second class citizens, extra painful on a day when fares had increased on all routes.
About 60 000 commuters use the train every day, with the OR Tambo International Airport being the busiest route.
Frustrated commuters queuing for buses outside stations tweeted their displeasure at the double whammy of fare increases which kicked off on Wednesday and travel disruptions.
Traffic specialist Rob Byrne tweeted that the delays to the Gautrain service had caused Uber taxi prices, which fluctuate according to demand, to increase three times.
Earlier this year, Gautrain management confirmed that they would be extending their rail routes by 200km and would be adding 48 new coaches to the system, giving it 12-train sets of four-cars each. – ANA