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Wednesday / 22 May 2024
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High-speed train between Gauteng and Limpopo in the works

Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi this week announced that the provincial government will present a concept plan for a 240km high-speed rail link between Johannesburg, Gauteng, and Polokwane, Limpopo, to Cabinet in two weeks’ time.

The railway will allow the financial hub of South Africa to link to one of the country’s largest rural provinces in an effort to support growth in both locations.

“Creating a new rail opportunity to Limpopo is a vote of confidence about the future. This future must incorporate Gauteng, and Gauteng must play a strategic role [in it],” said Lesufi.

The Gauteng and Limpopo provincial governments have already appointed a task team to perform feasibility studies on the proposed high-speed railway, with the team to first present a concept of the project to the national government in the next two weeks, MoneyWeb reports.

Following approval, it will get to work conducting the studies which will provide an indication of what the railway will cost, with government aiming to secure a public-private partnership to fund it, said Lesufi.

Due to the immense scale of the project, it will need approval from national treasury and must therefore go out on tender, but there are also two private institutions willing to flip the bill including “a China-based financial institution and a local institution,” said the premier, which will “make things easier” in terms of getting treasury to sign off.

Depending on compliance and approval processes, anywhere between four and six years “will be the ideal period to conclude the task,” said Lesufi.

Gautrain to play an important role

Jack van der Merwe, CEO of the Gauteng Transport Authority and former CEO of the Gautrain Management Agency (GMA), said the Gautrain expansion project scheduled for 2026 will play an integral part in the high-speed line between Joburg and Polokwane.

The existing Gautrain concession will remain in effect until March 2026, after which the GMA will look at adding a further 150km of track and 19 stations to the Gauteng-based railway, which in turn will form “the greater sum of the parts” of the high-speed railway.

“We are not sacrificing one for the other. We are looking at the planning,” said Van der Merwe.

“The existing Gautrain concession runs until 27 March 2026, so we are looking at renewing that and then doing the extension and future development.”

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