The Gautrain Management Agency, which operates the rapid rail link between Johannesburg, Pretoria and OR Tambo International Airport, has proposed seven new routes along identified "high-mobility corridors" in South Africa's busiest province.
The new proposed routes form part of Gauteng province's 25-year Integrated Transport Master Plan, which Transport MEC Ismail Vadi unveiled in August.
Presenting the proposed routes in Midrand, north of Johannesburg on Thursday, Gautrain CEO Jack van der Merwe said the first proposed extension would see a link between Sandton and Randburg via Honeydew in northern Johannesburg being constructed.
This would be followed by a link from Ruimsig to Samrand via Blue Hills, Sunninghill, Fourways, Cosmo City and Ruimsig, followed by a link between Samrand and Tshwane East via Irene, followed by a link from the existing Rhodesfield Station to Boksburg via the East Rand Mall.
The fifth extension would be between the existing Johannesburg Park Station and Westgate via the CBD, the sixth would link Naledi in Soweto, south of Johannesburg, with Ruimsig, and seventh would link Tshwane East and Mamelodi.
Van der Merwe said this remained a proposal until it had received buy-in from other local municipalities and eventually from the Cabinet.
"The intension is to have [the Integrated Transport Master Plan] approved by the province and all local authorities before the end of 2013. Key to the [plan] is to prioritise public transport, with the rail system being the backbone of the transport network."
Once the Master Plan had been approved by Cabinet, Van der Merwe, feasibility studies, route designs and costings would follow.
The Master Plan envisions that, with the population in Gauteng projected to grow by millions within the next few years, a shift should be made from private vehicles to public transport and non-motorised transport, and in the long term, from road to rail.
The Master Plan will also foster a partnership between the Gauteng Department of Roads and Transport, the Gautrain Management Agency and the Passenger Rail Agency of SA to develop and extend the rail network into an intergraded and efficient transport system.
This, Van der Merwe said, would lead to the development of modern modal transfer facilities at Metrorail commuter stations.
With e-tolls set to be introduced on some of Gauteng's freeways, Vadi said the Gautrain - which now ferries 52 000 people a day or 1.2-million people a year - was a good alternative.
He said the train has fast gained popularity and growth as a highly reliable mode of transport, and urged residents to park their cars and hop on the train.