Passenger trains to arrive in Kenya next month
The five passenger locomotives are part of the 56 locomotives expected in the country prior to the launch of the Standard Gauge Railway in June 2017.
The ultra-modern 6,000 litre diesel-powered locomotives can run at a top speed of 158 kilometres per hour. They have an overall length of 220 meters.
Kenya Railways will receive forty (40) passenger coaches which will have varying capacities with the economy class accommodating 118 passengers in each coach and 72 in the First-Class coach.
Its low-weight and optimised aerodynamic design will reduce fuel consumption substantially.
The coaches also have state-of-the-art interiors, food service areas, Wi-Fi, among other modern comforts.
Once completed, the SGR will carry up to 1,000,000 passengers per annum, with two pairs of trains running per day, for the first four years.
The number of trips from the fourth year of operation will increase to three pairs of trains per day, giving a total of 1,500,000 passengers per year.
The passenger locomotives will cut down a 12-hour journey from Nairobi to Mombasa to just over four hours.
The locomotives and rolling stock of the SGR project have been manufactured by CRRC Qishuyan Corporation Limited, which is the largest locomotive manufacturer in the world.
The government had earlier this month come under harsh criticism especially on social media when Kenyans said they had been short changed in the SGR deal after comparing the locomotives with other high speed trains in the continent particularly those of Morocco.
The Morocco trains can reach speeds of 200 miles per hour and cut the journey time between Tangiers-Casablanca by more than half - to just over two hours.
The $2 billion project has been in development for a decade, funded by the governments of Morocco, France, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the UAE.
The government and the Kenya Railways (KR) Corporation was also quick to defend itself after comparisons were made between the costs of the SGR projectcompared to other railway projects in the continent most notably Ethiopia which was significantly cheaper.
“Ethiopia are constructing class two (type) railway dictated by their demands. Their cargo volumes are less than 10 million tonnes, so we cannot do a class two here. The port of Djibouti does less than 7 million tonnes while the port of Mombasa is doing nearly 30 million tonnes per annum. Our SGR has a capacity of about 22 million tonnes per year, with double stack capability,” KR Corporation Managing Director Atanus Maina said, adding that the cost implications will differ.
He maintained the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) is built based on the needs of the country which is to primarily ease the moving goods to and from the port of Mombasa.
“Ethiopian corridor has enough level crossings as it passes through areas where they don’t have a lot of people. For Kenya, the area is heavily inhabited…we had to do a lot of bridges and we needed to have more stations and land compensation, this will definitely have a huge impact on cost,” he noted.
He urged Kenyans to stop comparing the locomotives with the bullet trains in Morocco citing that locomotives are not supposed to be beautiful.
“The Moroccan government has identified they need to move five million people between Tangier and Casablanca which is a very popular location for tourists and they want to move as many people as they can. Bullet trains are passenger trains only, our lines are both passenger and freight but mainly freight since we do not have such passenger demand,” he said.
At present the SGR Phase One of the project is in the completion stage of the ancillary works, which include slope protection and drainage systems along sections of the line and fencing of the key facilities in the stations.
The SGR will also run freight trains with 54 double stack flat wagons, carrying 216 TEUs per trip and a trailing load of 4,000 tonnes on each train, thus raising Kenya’s total economic production by at least 1.5 per cent.
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