South Africa’s ongoing high-speed rail project to link the airport with Johannesburg will not be ready by the time the city hosts the World Cup next year, officials have said.

The $3.5bn Gautrain project to link Johannesburg, Pretoria and the airport was expected to ferry visitors from the airport to the commercial centre during the tournament, which will run from 11 June to 11 July 2010.

The project, under construction for three years, is now scheduled to finish in October next year.

The Bombela Consortium, which is carrying out the project, demanded an additional $180m to meet the June deadline, but the government refused.