In truth, there is no use comparing the luxurious Rovos Rail with the progressive, convenient Gautrain, as they offer completely different service to very different sectors and target markets. Still, both are significant, and fulfil very important roles in their own rights.
This is a mass rapid transit railway system, designed to provide modern, fast transport between Johannesburg, the OR Tambo International Airport, and Pretoria Accommodation. This was developed in response to a major issue with traffic in these areas, which form South Africa’s commercial, entertainment and tourism hub.
The Gautrain has a total line length of 80 kilometres, or 50 miles, and travels at 160 kilometres (equivalent to 99 miles) per hour. There is an underground portion that extends for some 15 kilometres (or just over nine miles). Its main station is Johannesburg Park Station. Other significant stations are at Hatfield, Sandton, Rosebank, Centurion, Rhodesfield, and Marlboro. It comprises 24 train sets, but includes 125 buses as part of the fleet too. These work together to facilitate the transport of about 100 000 passengers every day.
As the Gautrain continues to be used more and more, additional bus stops are added, and their frequency revised. March 2013 saw an additional eight bus routes revised.
The Gautrain is not just a train. It integrates the train, busses and even parking so that transferring from one to the next is easy and convenient. Everything works by means of a smart card, which can be purchased from all ticket offices and ticket vending machines.
Rovos Rail – The Pride of Africa
Rovos Rail is a luxurious private railway company that is based in Pretoria, Gauteng. The actual train is called The Pride of Africa and has been recognised as one of the world’s top 25 trains. In fact, this is much more than a train; it is a mobile hotel that offers its passengers nothing but the best.
The routes travelled can be undertaken in either direction and are between:
- Pretoria and Cape Town
- Pretoria and Durban
- Pretoria and Victoria Falls (on the Zambia / Zimbabwe border)
- Cape Town and Dar es Salaam (Tanzania)
- Cape Town and Cairo (Egypt) – this is only undertaken once every two years and includes portions on a private chartered aircraft and lake cruiser.
The Pride of Africa comprises a number of different accommodation coaches (each complete with world-class furnishings and en-suite bathrooms). The smallest rooms measure 76 square feet (or 23 square metres), and the largest 172 square feet (or 52.4 square metres). The décor is elegant and opulent, making visitors feel every bit as special and pampered as they deserve.
In addition to the accommodation, there is also a non-smoking lounge, a smoking lounge, two non-smoking restaurants and an exquisitely appointed observation car, situated at the rear of the train for the best views imaginable.
The food is of a world class, and is served with delightful South African wines, acclaimed around the world for their quality and flavour. The team of qualified, dedicated chefs are passionate about using the freshest local ingredients and on showcasing South African cuisine.
During the day, passengers are encouraged to maintain a smart-casual appearance. The evenings, however, are a time to splash out and flaunt one’s finest formal wear.