20 years ago, in 1992, the SA Mint issued the first sterling silver commemorative proof quality R2 crown size coin which featured “Mint Technology” as its theme. The 2 1/2 c Tickey, which was issued as a circulation coin from 1961 to 1964, was re-introduced as a sterling silver proof quality collector’s coin in 1997 depicting the “Knysna Sea Horse”. The “Knysna Sea Horse” was the first theme in the “Marine Life” coin series which consisted of both the 2 1/2 c Tickey and the R2 Crown. In 2012 a new theme was introduced on this sterling silver coin series, called “Trains of South Africa”, depicting the “Gautrain”.
The establishment of the South African railway service began in the 19th century, with the first operational steam train making its official maiden journey between the town of Durban and Harbour Point on 26 June 1860. 150 years later, on 08 June 2010, the first section of South Africa’s new modern mass rapid transit railway system was opened and operations officially commenced.
The Gautrain is a state-of-the-art 80 km railway system linking the Gauteng province’s two main cities, Johannesburg and Pretoria, to the O.R. Tambo International Airport. This high speed passenger train was built to offer an alternative to road transport, with the aim of relieving the traffic congestion between Johannesburg and Pretoria and expanding the public transport system. At the time of its construction it was the largest public-private partnership in Africa.
Although the existing railways in South Africa use the narrower-than-standard Cape gauge of 1067mm (3 ft 6 in) system, the Gautrain was built to the standard gauge of 1435 mm (4 ft 8½ in). According to the Gautrain planning and implementation study, this system would allow for more a comfortable and safer passenger commute at speeds of 130 kilometres per hour and higher. It would also allow for a more cost-effective procurement of rolling stock and less expensive maintenance of the rail system.
This newest development in the history of the South African railway is featured on the reverse of both the 2 1/2 c Tickey and the R2 Crown. The obverse of the Tickey features a Protea, the words “South Africa” and the year 2012. On the obverse of the R2 Crown the South African coat of arms is depicted together with the words “South Africa” written in all official languages and the year 2012. Complimenting the coins in this set is a miniature model of the Gautrain in sterling silver.