It had been such a long time since I had been to JNB, that I have never ridden the Gautrain which links the airport with downtown (Sandton), going via half-a-dozen stops on the way. One of the stops was close to my hotel (at Rosebank) and so this seemed the sensible way to travel, on the Sunday afternoon that I arrived.
The train station is well sign posted from arrivals, and requires going up two sets of escalators. You purchase a ‘Gold Card’ which you must pay for, in addition to the train ticket you need to purchase. The fare to my station was ZAR130. The fare is calculated when you check-out at your destination, so you must add cash to the card at the time of purchase. You can do this in ZAR50 increments at the machine, or add the exact amount at a ticket window. The queues for the ticket window can be quite lengthy.
I had just missed a train and so needed to wait 25 minutes for the next one. I was in two minds, but wanted to try it so waited. The seating on the platform is pretty basic – a metal bar you perch on.
The train soon pulled in and we were allowed to board.
The train is all one class and the seats are either in 4’s or in pairs, and there are luggage racks at the entrance to each carriage. Security staff roam the carriages throughout the journey.
The train goes through rolling countryside on its way to the City.
On arrival at the transfer point (Sandton), I checked the time for the connection to the hotel and found it was nearly 25 minutes before the train came. Clearly on a Sunday their timetable is not very well co-ordinated. To exit the station you have to use about 10 sets of escalators to get to the surface.
On the way back the next day, I did get a connecting train, which has a slightly different layout:
This time the connection time was only five minutes.
This is a safe (I’ve need seen so much Security), cost-effective way to get to and from the airport. On a Sunday check the times to avoid wasting time at the interchange points.
The Gautrain web site is here.