FANFARE AS Gautrain Takes its first ride

GOLDEN RAILS: Gautrain had it's first run in Midrand yesterday. 03/02/09. Pic. Vathiswa Ruselo. © Sowetan.
GOLDEN RAILS: Gautrain had it's first run in Midrand yesterday. 03/02/09. Pic. Vathiswa Ruselo. © Sowetan.

About 150 guests, including the government and media, set off from Midrand yesterday on their first trip aboard Gautrain, whose arrival is set to transform the province's transport industry.

About 150 guests, including the government and media, set off from Midrand yesterday on their first trip aboard Gautrain, whose arrival is set to transform the province's transport industry.

Leaving the depot in Midrand, photographers eagerly snapped the immaculate gold and blue train which set off in the direction of Pretoria with barely a rumble as it reached 80km an hour.

Bordering the train tracks, construction workers and emergency personnel reached for their cellphones to take photographs of the historic trip.

Seated on the carriages' blue-covered seats were members of the Gauteng government, Bombela concession executives and a large contingent of the media.

Earlier, as the rain pelted down and the thunder echoed over the depot, Gauteng premier Paul Mashatile said it was a welcome blessing.

"It's raining again so it means we are truly blessed.

"Our golden train is now finally where it belongs.

"And although Gautrain's physical home is here in Gauteng, her real home is in the heart and minds of all South Africans."

The first completed four-car train set - assembled in the United Kingdom - was handed over at the Derby plant in July last year.

"Gautrain is the birth of a new legacy in public transport and what we see here today is the realisation of this legacy," Mashatile said.

Disembarking from the train, guests marvelled at how "silent" the trip had been.

Gautrain Management Agency chief executive Jack van der Merwe glowingly commented on the train's design: "It gives the perception of speed. We knew this train had to be fast and had to be perceived as fast.

"This is really an African beauty we can be proud of."

l The route between Sandton and OR Tambo Airport is expected to be completed in mid-2010, just in time for the Fifa Soccer World Cup. - Sapa

X