Barely two weeks to the launch of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) Mombasa – Nairobi Service, Kenya Railways today received additional 17 freight locomotives, six (6) shunting locomotives, 50 flat wagons for containers and 4 unit cranes for use in the SGR operations.
The consignment was offloaded today under the supervision of the Principal Secretary, Transport, Prof. Paul. M. Maringa, Kenya Railways engineers, China Road and Bridge Corporation, the EPC contractor for Kenya’s Standard Gauge Railway project, and the project supervisor, TSDI-APEC-EDON Consortium (TAEC).
The locomotives and rolling stock are a key deliverable under SGR as they are the means by which the high capacity Standard Gauge Railway will deliver Kenya’s promise to her customers, including the cargo owners. The locomotives will provide a vital service to the Nation and help address the growing congestion on the roads in the country, with operations on the line expected to stimulate economic activity especially in the areas traversed by the Standard Gauge Railway line.
The 25 tonne axle flat wagons on the other hand, can carry a payload of 70 tonnes and are designed to run at 120 km/h. So far, the country has received 25 freight locomotives out of the 43 on order; the full order of five (5) passenger and eight (8) shunting locomotives; the full order of 40 Passenger coaches, as well as 763 Wagons out of the 1,620 on order.
Speaking on site at the Mombasa Port during the offloading of the locomotives and wagons, the Transport Principal Secretary Prof. Paul M. Maringa said that the government was keen on optimizing the SGR for freight transport; destined locally and to the region – Uganda, Rwanda Burundi, South Sudan and DRC.
“The SGR is the backbone of Kenya’s multi modal infrastructure development and thus it will play a key role is spurring economic growth. It is expected that freight uptake via SGR will considerably increase rail transport capacity from the port once the operations commence in December 2017, and in accordance with the commitment made in the Mombasa Port Community Charter, signed in June 2014,” he explained.
Operation of freight services is scheduled to begin once the expansion and modernisation of the Nairobi Inland Container Depot (ICD) is completed and handling equipment provided and installed. General freight will be offloaded at Nairobi Terminus, whose construction is generally complete.
Kenya Railways will operate the freight trains between Mombasa Port and Nairobi as per the traffic volumes available. The freight tariffs are being determined and will be published in time for the commencement of the operations. The customers are guaranteed high capacity trains with trailing loads of up to 4,000 tonnes, and high quality freight service with a transit time of 10 hours on average between Mombasa and Nairobi.
According to the Feasibility Study Report, SGR operations would reduce freight transportation costs compared to roads transport costs particularly as the volume offered to SGR increases. The cost of moving goods across borders has become increasingly important as the EAC market players continue to position their products in the global market.
On his part, Kenya Railways’ SGR Project Manager, Eng. Maxwell Mengich said, “Kenya Railways is ready to play its part in growing the country’s economy. We are working with the relevant agencies to ensure that all the interventions required at the Nairobi Inland Container Depot are ready to handle the freight once we roll out the service. We have also put in place sufficient spares and a robust maintenance programme to minimize on locomotive failures and achieve best performance in line with global practices,” he said.
The railway will operate both freight and passenger trains and being a single line, 33 crossing stations have been provided to facilitate crossing of trains. Seven (7) of these stations will handle passenger trains, which will in addition be given priority over the freight trains along the line in order to achieve shorter transit times.