By Margaret Kalekye/Release
Kenya will become the first country in Africa to receive the modern hybrid long- distance passenger trains in February this year.
The five passenger locomotives are part of the 56 locomotives expected in the country prior to the launch of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) in June 2017.
The ultra-modern 6,000 litre diesel-powered locomotives can run at a top speed of 158 kilometres per hour and have an overall length of 220 meters.
Kenya Railways will receive forty 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 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.
CRRC’s market share is over 60% in China, and has also already exported locomotives, rolling stock and related products to other countries such as Venezuela, Tanzania, Guinea, Argentina, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, etc.
“These passenger locos will usher Kenya into in a new era: it is the backbone of our future long-distance transport system, linking up more and more, towns, cities and countries,” said Kenya Railways Managing Director, Atanas Maina. “These passenger locomotives will cut down a twelve-hour journey from Nairobi to Mombasa to just over four hours. Furthermore, the line will result in significant cuts in journey times between Kenya, Uganda and eventually to Kigali, in Rwanda,” he said.
“With these passenger locomotives, we are crossing technical and geographic borders. The powerful engine with nominal power of up to 3040 kW offers the traction that we need on the East African terrains.”
Apart from an excellent interior, passengers on both First Class and Economy will enjoy air conditioning, Wi-Fi, social amenities and catering facilities, among other comforts.
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.
Already, the signaling, communication and electric works have been completed with the line testing exercise expected to commence in March, in preparation for official launch on June 1, 2017.
When completed, the modern, high capacity Standard Gauge Railway 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.
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.