By Nicholas Nduati/KNA
Kenya Railways has commenced test runs of the new locomotives that will be used on the 472 kilometers Nairobi-Mombasa Standard Gauge Railway line.
The express trains that arrived at the port of Mombasa in January from China have been undergoing various routine tests to gauge their quality and performance.
Come June this year, operations of the express trains between Nairobi and Mombasa will commence which will drastically change Kenya’s railway history.
The trains will make only one stop at Mtito Andei to allow for the crossing of another train in the opposite direction.
The express trains with a designed speed of 120 km/h will eventually whisk passengers on the Mombasa-Nairobi railway corridor in four hours while freight trains will take eight hours.
According to the Standard Gauge Railway project coordinator Eng. Joshua Matu the express trains that arrived at the port of Mombasa in January from China have been undergoing dynamic testing to ensure safety compliance and quality assurance in the main marshaling yards in Mombasa and Nairobi.
The trains were flagged off for test runs from Nairobi at around 9:30 am and arrived in Mombasa at around 4.30 pm with stopovers in Mtito Andei and Voi train sub stations.
‘The trains set off from Nairobi at about 9.30 am and we arrived in Mtito Andei within two hours but we had to drive slowly towards Mombasa because there is still some work going on along the track line’ said the SGR project coordinator Joshua Matu.
Eng. Matu said the express trains that arrived at the port of Mombasa in January from China have been undergoing various routine tests to gauge their quality and performance in Nairobi.
The test runs will continue in the next three months to gauge the performance of the trains, the tracks and the computerized communication systems that activate the railroad crossing signals.
‘The successful line testing in this inaugural drive with two freight locomotives and four passenger coaches is a major milestone towards the full railway operations from June 1 2017’ he said.
He said the construction of sub-grade, bridges, culverts and mainline track-laying and installation of signaling, communication and electricity systems are complete.
1,620 freight wagons are also expected to arrive in Mombasa in the next three months while 40 coaches are to be delivered by the end of this month.
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 SGR flagship project under the Kenya Vison 2030 development agenda will also simplify transport operations across the borders, reduce travel costs and benefit the economies of Kenya and neighbouring countries.