UPDATE: Standard gauge rail project

Laying down the rails. Photo/CBR

Laying down the rails. Photo/CBR

Kenya has signed a new deal that will extend the Mombasa-Nairobi standard gauge railway to Naivasha town, some 120km northwest of the capital.

The deal was signed on Saturday by China Road & Bridge Corp. chair Wen Gang and Kenya Railways boss Atanas Maina in a ceremony witnessed by President Uhuru Kenyatta.

The commercial contract will pave the way for construction of phase 2A of the SGR project that will see the line head to Naivasha to link Olkaria’a special zones to Nairobi and the port city of Mombasa to enable smooth flow of goods and inputs.

A source privy to the deal told the Construction Business Review on Tuesday that Kenya expects to spend US$1.5 billion (about Sh157 billion) to set up the Nairobi-Naivasha railway.

The hefty cost has been blamed on the rugged terrain and steep slopes of the Rift Valley – which will necessitate construction of several rail bridges and tunnels.

The government is currently seeking funds for the project.


Tuesday, August 25, 2015
Construction of the Mombasa-Nairobi standard gauge railway is underway, with officials saying the project is now running ahead of schedule.

Chinese ambassador to Kenya Liu Xianfa said on Monday that the contractor, China Road and Bridge Corp., had completed half of the construction work of bridges, culverts and sub-grade for the project.

“Ever since the start of the construction, the railway project has achieved significant and vigorous progress,” said Dr Xianfa who added that the design of the electric power to be used in the railway is also complete.

He was speaking during a tour of the Syokimau campsite, about 20km from Nairobi, which coordinates the design and construction of the infrastructure that will handle electric power transmission that will be used by the locomotives. The campsite will, on completion, serve as the command centre for the railway operation system.

The Sh345 billion project suffered a major hitch in March after the supervising consultants differed with the contractor over the designs of culverts. The Kenyan supervisors protested CRBC’s decision to use Chinese design standard instead of the British standard that they were familiar with – leading to suspension of works.

The suspension of works was, however, lifted in April after the two parties agreed to adhere to the set requirements.

READ: Kenya railway project back on track

Since last December, the contractor has made laudable progress on the project including setting up two factories for the production of sleepers and T-beams.

The two factories are located at Emali and Kathekani, with each facility having the capacity to produce 1.5 beams and 1,000 sleepers a day.

Sleepers are blocks that support the rails in rail-road tracks while T-beams are used to reinforce bridges.

Bridges will account for about 30km of the 472km railway and will be used to span valleys, cross roads and areas where the new railway crosses the existing metre gauge line.

The plan includes construction of a 2km bridge over the Tsavo River as well as the establishment of eight corridors for elephants to pass under the line. The corridors are seven metres high and 50 metres long each.

The standard gauge railway, whose completion is scheduled for June 2017, will carry freight trains at speeds of up to 80km/hour and passenger trains at up to 120km/hour.

A standard gauge railway has a distance of 56.5 inches between its rails or between the wheels of a train.

The new rail line will run parallel to the existing metre gauge railway but will deviate as appropriate in order to achieve the desired gradient and curvature.

The project is 90 per cent funded by the China Exim Bank, with the Kenyan government financing the remaining 10 per cent.

READ: Kenya signs standard gauge railway deal with China

The Mombasa-Nairobi line is expected to be extended to Malaba, western Kenya, into Uganda and ultimately to Kigali in Rwanda.

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