In a statement sent to newsrooms, Spokesman Manoah Esipisu said 98 per cent of works on the Sh327 billion Mombasa –Nairobi railway had been completed and that trial movements along the railway route are scheduled to begin once the works are 100 per cent ready.
“The progress means that the date projected for the first passenger train to run on the SGR, 1 June 2017, is very much on schedule,” Mr Esipisu said, adding that civils works had already started on the Nairobi-Naivasha segment of the railway project.
The Kenya Railways Corporation managing director Atanas Maina had last week said that the contractor was doing finishing works on the project, with test runs expected to begin in January.
“We expect to start receiving locomotives by January. There is a team in China inspecting the final assembly and packaging so that shipment can begin,” Mr Maina said.
The Mombasa-Nairobi SGR project, which has been under construction since November 2013, is 472.3 kilometres long – 442.6 kilometres of which run at grade and the remaining 29.7 kilometres comprising the total bridge length.
The Kenya standard gauge railway line is designed with an axleload of 25 tonnes and is expected to move up to 22 million tonnes of cargo per year at a speed of 80-100km/hr for freight trains. Passenger trains are, on the other hand, expected to achieve speeds of up to 120km/hr.
The railway is expected to open up to commercial services by mid-next year.
The second phase of the Mombasa-Nairobi railway, which is set to cost Sh153 billion, will extend to Naivasha and will eventually be extended to Malaba, western Kenya, from where it will link up with the Uganda SGR line and ultimately extend to Kigali in Rwanda.
Last month, the government announced fresh plans for the electrification of the Mombasa-Nairobi line, which will cost Sh49 billion.
Transport and Infrastructure CS James Macharia said 609 kilometres of railway track would be made electric following a deal reached with Uganda and Rwanda.
“The protocol signed between the four (East African) countries was to do an electric track. In Kenya, we started with a diesel one but we need to convert it to electric before Uganda commissions their bit, which is in about five years,” Mr Macharia said.
The Mombasa-Nairobi SGR project is 90 per cent funded by the China Exim Bank, with the Kenyan government financing the remaining 10 per cent.