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08 May 2008 12:23
From Pretoria to Johannesburg in just under an hour is what Metrorail’s new Business Express train promises.
The service was launched on Thursday by Transport Minister Jeff Radebe.
It was hoped that the train service—which would officially start operating on Friday—would encourage professionals to abandon their cars and take the train to work.
“We want to make it a possibility for all South Africans, regardless of their social class, to use Metrorail,” Radebe said at the launch at Pretoria Station.
With the exception of short journeys, there are free refreshments, free newspapers, laptop workstations with power points and wi-fi access. Stewards and stewardesses will be on duty in every coach.
“It is very comfortable and we need to spread the word that it is convenient as well,” Radebe said after taking a test ride between Pretoria and Centurion.
In contrast to the normal Metrorail service, the train has comfortable seating and it only stops in Centurion and Kempton Park before it reaches its final destination, Park Station in Johannesburg.
At the stations, secure covered parking and dedicated free bus services will be provided.
“Compared to taxis which cost around R1 200 a month or petrol which costs around R2 000 a month for the journey, our service is very affordable—it would only cost R750 monthly,” said Tshepo Lucky Montana, chief executive of the South African Rail Commuters’ Corporation.
He said similar services were planned for Durban and Cape Town.
Initially the train will run only at peak times, departing from Pretoria at 6.15am and arriving at Johannesburg at 7.15am.
The train will return to Pretoria at 7.30am.
In the afternoons, the service will run from Pretoria to Johannesburg and back, arriving in Pretoria at 6.30pm.
Metrorail hopes to expand the service to off-peak periods.
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