5:00am – its cold, dark but there is excitement in the air as VIP, Media and public take the first Gautrain from Hatfield to Rosebank. This is the first time that this part of the line has been opened. This is the the first time that this journey will no longer take approximately 2 hours, but rather 24 minutes (give or take 1 minute).
The highways will be emptier, the people will be calmer and the journey will be a pleasure instead of a nightmare !
At 9:00am we gathered at Sandton station where we were addressed in a short ceremony by the proud management team Jerome Govender, Jack van der Merwe, and Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele and Gauteng transport MEC Ismail Vadi. Followed by the Kingsmead College choir who sang the national anthem.
Was pretty amazing to hear that over 3 million people used the Gautrain and this morning by 9:00 7000 people were using the new route !
Crowd of regular onlookers stopped to listen and read the Twitter Wall that was installed by the Gautrain Social Media team. This allowed people to share their experience of the Gautrain by using the #sharethepride hash tag – a great touch as messages of support were pouring in from passengers on this historic day for Gauteng and South Africa’s road and transport system.
Before I left, I met Jacquie S who works in Pretoria and commutes to Sandton everyday. She had tears in her eyes when she told me that “For me, this isn’t a train ride. This will allow me to get home and see my kids before they go to sleep. I will get my family time back.”.
What else needs to be said ?
More information about the routes, fares, time table etc. can be accessed on the Gautrain’s website: http://www.gautrain.co.za/