The railways in South Africa were constructed in 1870 in response to the discovery of diamonds in the Witwatersrand area. At the time, the British Cape Colony was one of Britain’s most exploited colonies; the construction of a railroad between the diamond mines and the port of Cape Town made “the economy of Cape Colony [to be] centered around the railroads.”
Despite their importance in facilitating the South African economy, not all of its consequences have been positive. The Gautrain, for instance, is an 80-kilometer “express commuter rail system which links Johannesburg, Pretoria, Ekurhuleni and O.R. Tambo International Airport”1 that has been anecdotally defined as a “luxury train connecting rich communities” that leaves the townships it passes through disconnected and segregated. The township of Alexandra, for example, is located next to the wealthy suburb of Sandton - where a Gautrain is located - follows the railway as a pattern for its location. It is located on the east side of the railroad and barely connected by small streets and avenues and it is on this side where the townships or underdeveloped urban areas are often located. The relation between the infrastructure network of South Africa is not only focused in the most profitable and affluent areas but it is also disarticulating entire cities by not including the population as a whole.
Arnold, Kathryn & Le Roux, Alize & Hattingh, Marcelle, “Impact of Gautrain stations on property prices and sales activity in the City of Johannesburg between 2006 and 2015”, South African Journal of Geomatics, 6 no.2 (2017):185. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/319985139_Impact_of_Gautrain_stations_on_property_prices_and_sales_activity_in_the_City_of_Johannesburg_between_2006_and_2015
“Gautrain”, Wikipedia, accessed March 6, 2022, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gautrain