The Gautrain project is around 65% complete, with an estimated R17,5-billion of the project budget of R25,4-billion already spent. The project, being constructed by the Bombela consortium, is to be completed in two phases.
The first phase includes the network between the OR Tambo International Airport and Sandton, and includes the stations at the airport, and at Rhodesfield, Marlboro and Sandton, together with the depot and operations control centre located near Allandale road, in Midrand. The second phase, being constructed concurrently, will be completed in 54 months, in 2011. It includes the remainder of the rail network and stations linking Sandton to Park station, in Johannesburg, and the route from Midrand to Hatfield, in Pretoria.
The journey between Sandton and airport will take 15 minutes, and construction work is progressing well.
It has been a big debate whether the Gautrain airport link will be ready for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, with Bombela's contract only stating that it should be wrapped up at the end of June, this while the World Cup kicks off on June 11.
Gautrain Management Agency CEO Jack van der Merwe says that a decision will have to be made on whether phase one of the project now needs a cash injection to be finished in time for the sports event.
He says government is currently in talks with Bombela to accelerate the project, and that it will have to decide whether it will be prepared to pay the bill to have the airport rail link ready for the World Cup kick-off.
He says the rail project has never been a 2010 project. The project was announced in 2000, with the FIFA World Cup awarded only in 2004.
However, he adds that there is a "need and desire" from government to finish phase one of the project in time for the global sports event.
Van der Merwe says that he has been hopeful to make an announcement on the possible fast-track of the project this month, but that he is now targeting August or, at the very least, the next three months.