After several delays, the Soweto Business Express (SBE), an eight-coach luxury train travelling between Johannesburg and Soweto, will be launched on Tuesday, Metrorail regional manager Salani Sithole told Engineering News Online on Monday.

After Transport Minister Jeff Radebe officially launches the R2,2-billion train, it will make its debut trip from Naledi station, in Soweto, to the Johannesburg CBD on Tuesday morning, Metrorail communications manager Brenda Motau announced.

Radebe will be joined by Gauteng MEC for Public Transport, Roads and Works Ignatius Jacobs, Johannesburg executive mayor Amos Masondo, and South African Rail Commuter Corporation CE Lucky Montana.

The 530-seater train is the first of three proposed such ventures and is targeted at satisfying the demands of middle-class travellers to Johannesburg, who often have to cough up between R400/m and R500/m for parking bays.

The SBE, which will cost around R330/m to ride, will begin its route at Naledi station, with stops at Ikhwezi and Dube stations in Soweto, before reaching the Johannesburg CBD.

Motau said that the revamped, refurnished and rebranded SBE had numerous modern facilities, including the Internet.

She added that each of the eight coaches would be staffed by a uniformed attendant, to serve drinks and provide free newspapers to commuters, and a security guard.

The SBE was initially planned for launch in April, and then June, but “budgeting issues” had caused delays, Sithole said earlier.

The SBE would be used as a yardstick for a similar express running from Johannesburg to Pretoria.

The Johannesburg-Pretoria express was expected to be launched by October/November.

Earlier Sithole said that a second train would be launched along the same route, but travelling at a later time.

While the SBE was scheduled to arrive at Park station at 7:15, the second train would reach the city at 8:30.

It is anticipated that SBE commuters would be able to link to the R27-billion Gautrain rapid rail link at Park station, once the Gautrain, which will link Johannesburg, OR Tambo international and Pretoria, is operational.

PUBLICATION: Engineering News
AUTHOR: Nelendhre Moodley
DATED: 2nd July 2007