Johannesburg’s GauTrain – sleek airport connection (at least during peak times)

Safety concerns hang over every transport decision in Johannesburg. The Rapid Traveler’s employer exists on extreme measures including security escorts from the airport. Business hours end early to allow commuters to return home before dark. There do not seem to be any taxi companies that locals trust. For a visitor, it is difficult to separate prudence from paranoia.

The GauTrain rail link to the airport and key destinations in Johannesburg and Pretoria was built for the World Cup and just added another station, Park, in June. ‘Gau,’ pronounced like ‘how’ comes from Gauteng Province.

GauTrain 1

Speed and security

The Rapid Traveler rode the GauTrain for his weekend jaunt up to Victoria Falls. His hotel was conveniently walkable from the Rosebank Station. Getting to a station is the main concern viz above mentioned security issue. There is an extensive bus network (see map) for those determined to use public transport. If a station is convenient, however, the GauTrain itself is a breeze.

Trains run 05:30-20:30 and one-way airport fares range 105-125 ZAR (about 13-16 USD), plus one-time purchase of a Gold Card for 10 ZAR (see PDF guide for map and info; timetables by direction are at the main page).

GauTrain 3

Comfortable carriages

The train is speedy but the schedule is not always so. Heading out on Friday morning, the trip from Rosebank to the airport took less than half an hour all told, but returning Sunday it took well over an hour with wait times of nearly 30 minutes for both trains.

The stations are blanketed with security; the many local business travelers seem comfortable with the security measures.

One flaw for airport arrivals is the airport station has only 3 ticketing machines and 1 window – woefully inadequate.

GauTrain 4

Inadequate ticketing at the airport

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