The Gautrain is coming back on Monday – with Covid-19 checks and whole-body disinfection

Business Insider SA
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  • The Gautrain will be operational again under Alert Level 4, transport minister Fikile Mbalula announced on Friday.
  • The Gautrain had been expecting as much, and had already been preparing to resume operations with Covid-19 measures in place.
  • Trains will only be running some parts of the day, passengers will have to wear masks, and there will be no trains to the still mostly closed OR Tambo Airport.
  • Passengers may be checked for Covid-19 symptoms – and will soon be required to walk through a whole-body disinfection booth.
  • Here is what we know about the Gautrain resuming operations.
  • For more stories go to the Business Insider South Africa homepage.

* This article has been updated below.

Johannesburg's Gautrain commuter rail service will resume – in limited fashion – during Alert Level 4, transport minister Fikile Mbalula announced on Friday afternoon.

Under Level 4 some additional industries have been allowed to return to work, and a little more retail activity is allowed, and commuter numbers are also expected to rise.

See also | Lockdown level 4: What will now be allowed

The Gautrain had been shut alongside many other forms of public transport when South Africa went into hard lockdown, but had anticipated restarting, and had already been preparing to resume operations.

But things will not be entirely normal just yet. 

Here's what we know about the Gautrain restarting operations.

No lunchtime trains

Trains will run in the morning, between 05:30 and 09:30 and then again from 15:00 to 19:00.

(Mbalula originally said trains would operate until noon, but the Gautrain says this will not be the case.)

The first train is due to depart on Monday, 4 May.

"On Monday to Friday, trains will operate at 20-minute intervals and on weekends and public holidays, trains will operate at 30-minute intervals," the Gautrain said in a statement after Mbalula's speech.

"The revised train and bus schedules will be available on the Gautrain website and app as of Sunday, 03 May."

See also | These fast-food chains are open from 1 May

You may be checked for Covid-19 symptoms

"Random screening of passengers will be conducted at stations in collaboration with the Department of Health field workers," the Gautrain said in a statement.

Whole-body disinfection is coming, and will be mandatory

"We are in the process of procuring disinfecting spray booths which will be installed at the entrance to each station," the Gautrain said.

A whole-body disinfecting spray booth

"Passengers will be required to walk through the spray booth before entering the station. The disinfectant spray is harmless and is just another way in which we hope to curb the spread of the virus."

Some Gautrain buses will also be running, with special new hospital stops

Some bus routes will be open, and some of those routes have been adjusted to include stops at hospitals for the use of health workers.

The bus routes that will be operational are:

  • H3 – Arcadia
  • P3 – Pretoria CBD
  • M3 – Sunninghill
  • S3 – Rivonia
  • S4 – Randburg
  • S5 – Fourways
  • J1 – Parktown
  • J2 – Johannesburg CBD
  • RF1 – Kempton Park CBD

Carriages can be up to half full

Taxis are allowed to load up to 70% of their passenger capacity, while e-hailing cars can load up to half (two people plus a driver).

The Gautrain is being held to the car side of the equation, with each carriage allowed to fill up to 50%.

"The Gautrain seating arrangement will consist [of] alternate seats to allow regulated spacing and control based on average one passenger per square metre," Mbalula said.

There will be no service to OR Tambo airport.

While all other stations on the network will open, from the Johannesburg CBD to Hatfield in Pretoria, the airport station will remain closed.

OR Tambo is operating only on a skeleton staff, with provision for emergencies and repatriation flights, and that is not due to change under Level 4.

You'll need a mask – and may get one for free if you are quick

As with all public transport – and all public places – wearing a cloth mask is compulsory on the Gautrain, and guards are expected to police their use.

The Gautrain says it will have face masks available and will give those to customers for free, but "stock is limited and we ask that passengers come prepared with their own face mask."

See also | SA now has rules for mandatory cloth masks. Here’s what to look out for, and what to pay

The Gautrain has been preparing for reopening, and believes it has the necessary sanitary and physical-distancing measures in place

The Gautrain says it has hand sanitisers available, cleaning protocols for high-touch areas in place, and is generally ready to deal with the higher demands for cleanliness required by SARS-CoV-2.

Gautrain social distancing

See also | The SA govt just doubled what it’s willing to pay for sanitiser – but body bags will be cheaper

* This article has been updated with details released by the Gautrain after Mbalula's announcement.

(Compiled by Phillip de Wet)

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