Sustainable development calls for an integrated approach, which considers the inter-relationship between transport, the environment, the economy and society as a whole. The aim of sustainable development is to build, operate and maintain a system that will be beneficial to all over the long run. Basically it means that the developments will serve our children, without putting a burden on them. 

The diagram below graphically illustrates the integration of the environment, society and the economy in order to develop a sustainable public transport system such as the Gautrain.

Interrelated Sustainable Development

Gautrain aims to facilitate and to be a catalyst for Sustainable Development. Gautrain, therefore, has to meet the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

Gautrain complements and supplements the other public transport modes in Gauteng, allowing our citizens a safe, efficient and reliable solution. Gautrain goes even further, by attempting to be sufficiently attractive with superior travel times and improved safety and security, in order to serve people who would otherwise select private transport.

Our rapidly sprawling city growth is clearly not sustainable. Effective and efficient public transport, and a limit to city sprawl are essential to make our cities sustainable. Gautrain’s contribution to sustainable development is not only critical to environmental protection and social upliftment, but it also makes good business sense when considering the spin-off effects such as increased job creation, improved spatial structures and overall economic growth.

Benefits of Gautrain to Sustainable Development as evident from the research done by the UITP in its Bringing Quality to Life:

  • Limit greenhouse gas emissions to minimise the negative impact on the climate;
  • Reduce road traffic congestion and the resulting congestion costs;
  • Significantly reduce the number of road accidents, fatalities and injuries;
  • Improve mobility levels of the entire community, which also will narrow the division between the mobility levels in our society;
  • Improve accessibility to primary services of health, education and employment for the entire community; and
  • Reduce conventional emissions and transport related noise so that Gautrain does not constitute a significant concern to public health.

Public Transport and the Environment


The Centre for Transport Excellence has compared the use of rail transport with that of road-based transport. Public transport produces, on average, per passenger kilometre, 95% less carbon monoxide (CO), 92% fewer volatile organic compounds, 45% less CO2 and 48% less nitrogen oxide (NO).

According to the UK Department of Environmental, Food and Rural Affairs, on a passenger kilometre basis, travelling by train is significantly less carbon intensive than travelling by car or plane.

Source: UK Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Considering that the traffic volumes are still escalating by approximately 7% per year in the corridor between Johannesburg and Pretoria in Tshwane, carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from road-based vehicles will increasingly contribute to global warming. And, as the influx of people to Gauteng intensifies, pollution caused by road-based vehicles will also increase.

Carbon emissions from Gautrain are considerably lower per passenger transported, than for private vehicles, notwithstanding the higher speeds and even when there are no major traffic incidents. Energy use by rail is three to five times more efficient than cars per person kilometre based on full capacity. Travelling with Gautrain reduces your contribution to climate change.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) every year more people die from the effects of road traffic-related air pollution. Private cars are the main cause of urban air pollution from transport.

The risk from dying from road traffic accidents is extremely high in South Africa. The latest available statistics from the Arrive Alive campaign (Road Traffic Report of March 2008) shows that there are approximately 15 000 road traffic fatalities each year. This, in turn, has negative environmental effects. In addition, highly congested roads increase noise disturbances and have negative effects on our living space.

Gautrain, in addition to its low visual and noise impacts, assists by lessening our dependence in imported fuel and oil. With our cars having an average occupancy level of 1,2 persons per car, with cars weighing more than 1000kg on average, the energy saving is obvious.

Gautrain and Society

With the expected global increase in urban populations (increase by 27% over the next 30 years - UITP, Ticket to the Future), and the rapid urbanisation rates in Africa, the provision of a safe and secure rail system like Gautrain in a fast developing Gauteng Province, becomes a top priority. Passengers of all demographics require safe, stress-free travel. The Gautrain Feasibility Study found that on average it is five to ten times safer to travel by rail transport, compared to road transport.

Poor transport infrastructure marginalises the poor and limits certain members of society to move freely, and makes all travel less safe. Gautrain brings independence to all, especially to women, learners and people with disabilities. It therefore assists to lower the socio-economic cost of travel to society.

Gautrain fosters a sense of community. People travelling together are more likely to feel a community connection, by sharing information and being sociable than those travelling in cars in isolation.

Urban space is a limited resource impacting quality of life for all those living and working in a city. Public transport uses the limited space more efficiently, allowing all citizens to enjoy their city. Even zero-emission energy-efficient cars take up more space than public transport.

Efficient land use, to which public transport such as Gautrain contributes, produces results far beyond the immediate benefit of increased use of public transport. It has the potential to significantly change the way we live and travel, reducing our individual carbon footprints while preserving and enhancing our mobility. It further encourages people to have a more active healthy lifestyle, particularly if they are walking or cycling to their stations.

The benefits to society of a dense city are:

  • Improved Accessibility: Higher densities allow for closer proximity of housing, employment and retail, reducing driving distances and enabling communities to plan for and support alternative travel options.
  • Improved Mobility: In many Central Business Districts, trips taken for shopping, dining or other non-commuting purposes are often made on foot — even by those who drive to work.
  • Improved Integration: Higher density development, multi-use buildings, and compact apartments and office space - are more energy efficient and extend public transport’s contribution by integrating it with other sectors of the economy.

Economic Growth as a Result of Gautrain

Urban areas contribute towards economic development and wealth creation, but they cannot perform efficiently without robust public transport networks and services.

Gautrain brings economic benefits in that efficient public transport and lower road traffic congestion increase productivity and the economic viability in Gauteng and it decreases the out of pocket cost of transport to the community.

In addition to reducing costs caused by congestion, public transport creates jobs and supports local economies. According to a study by The American Public Transportation Association, for every R80 million invested in capital projects for public transport, more than 300 jobs are created with a R240 million gain in business. In Europe, public transport creates two to three times more employment opportunities per passenger kilometre than private transport (Ticket to the Future, UITP, 2009).

Investment in public transport can be expensive, but the benefits are much greater and projects like the Gautrain help towards achieving long-term economic sustainability. These secondary factors enhancing the economy include:

  • Reduced travelling costs;
  • Reduced need for building vast car parks on valuable land in the city centres that could have otherwise been used as highly priced office or retail space;
  • Reduced reliance on rapidly decreasing oil supplies;
  • Reduced reliance on imported fuels;
  • Job creation;
  • Increased property value in and around the core business areas and adjacent to public transport stations;
  • Improved integration between various sectors;
  • Community development and upliftment;
  • Improved living standards.


In conclusion Gautrain is a sustainable transport system, which increases mobility in Gauteng, the engine room of the South African economy. It minimises consumption of non-renewable resources and optimises the use of land. It improves improved access individuals and societies to core areas such as employment areas and areas where there are goods, jobs, education and leisure. It further enhances a vibrant economy by creating more job opportunities, improving worker productivity and integrating various sectors which ultimately leads to community development and upliftment.

In short, Gautrain facilitates sustainable growth and liveable cities.

Gautrain, at the end of the Concession period, will be a fully paid off asset of the Gauteng Provincial Government in an established high density corridor around which the Province will shape itself for the benefit of our children.

SIP Policy

Social Investment Programmes (SIP)
The Social Investment Policy (SIP) sets out the history, context and principles which underpin the GMA’s approach to social investment.  It also explains how procedures for co-ordinating and managing the initiative, as approved by the Gautrain Management Agency Board. Please click here for policy. For further information contact