Mombasa-Nairobi railway is all set for opening on June 1

On going construction of the Mombasa-Nairobi standard gauge railway. PHOTO/FILE
Construction of the Mombasa-Nairobi standard gauge railway last year. PHOTO/FILE
Construction of the Mombasa-Nairobi standard gauge railway is nearing its final culmination, with 100 per cent of civil works already completed, the Kenya Railways Corporation has said.

According to the Kenya Railways Corporation managing director Atanas Maina, civil works for the Sh327 billion railway are now fully complete – with test runs for the project scheduled to begin this month.

This progress means that the date projected for the first passenger train to run on the standard gauge railway on June 1 is realistic.

The Railway Rolling Stock Corporation (CRRC) of China has already shipped in six Df8B freight locomotives which will operate on the new railway.

The company is expected to supply a total of 56 16V280ZJA diesel-engined locomotives: 43 DF8B locomotives for use on freight trains, five DF11 locomotives for passenger trains and eight DF7G shunting locomotives.

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.

“There are 33 stations along the line, of which two will be traffic hubs at both ends and eight will be intermediate stations while 23 will be passing stations,” Mr Maina said in an earlier interview.

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 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 line and ultimately extend to Kigali in Rwanda.

In December, the government announced fresh plans for the electrification of the Mombasa-Nairobi line, at a cost of Sh49 billion.

Transport and Infrastructure cabinet secretary 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 standard gauge railway project is 90 per cent funded by the China Exim Bank, with the Kenyan government financing the remaining 10 per cent.

Meanwhile, Kenya and Uganda have signed an agreement that sets out a model for the joint operation of the proposed Mombasa-Kampala standard gauge railway.

The States have agreed to have one operator for the route – with locomotives and rolling stocks being used across both nations.

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