Kenya’s successful implementation of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) project attained another milestone with the receiving of 6 locomotives. They arrived in the country on board MV Kota Bistari from China. The 6 locomotives which comprised of 4 freight locomotives and 2 shunting locomotives are part of an entire fleet of 56 locomotives, 5 passenger coaches and 1,620 wagons that will be deployed on the Standard Gauge Railway line when operations commence. Of the 56 locomotives, 43 will be used for movement of freight, 5 will be for passengers and 8 will be used for shunting operations.
The shunting locomotives have a design speed of 100 kmh and will be used for assembling, disassembling and moving rolling stock around the yard. The freight trains on the other hand have a design speed of 100 kmh but will travel at a recommended operation speed of 80 kmh taking slightly over 6 hours between Mombasa and Nairobi while pulling a trailing load of 108 containers. Owing to the design of the freight wagons which allows for double stacking of containers, the freight trains will play a vital role in decongesting the Port of Mombasa.
Speaking at a function to receive the locomotives on January 11, 2017, Transport Cabinet Secretary Mr. James Macharia said that the receiving of the locomotives symbolized the fact that the project is on course for completion later this year. He said that the dream which had been conceptualized a few years earlier is now closer to becoming a reality. He informed participants that the contractor together with Kenya Railways will commence test runs on the line to ensure that all the project’s components are functioning properly before commissioning later this year.
“It is a historic moment for our nation. Construction of the Standard Gauge Railway project is nearing completion. Today we are here to receive the first batch of 6 locomotives that will be used for operations on the line. It is important to note that, construction of a railway line is not an end in itself. The railway has to be operated to achieve its objective which is to enhance mobility of the masses and freight.” he said.
It is slightly over 2 years since actual construction commenced and to date the progress achieved is quite commendable. 2017 is the year in which Mombasa and Nairobi will welcome operations on the SGR line. Laying of the track which commenced at the Kathekani towards Mombasa and at Emali towards Nairobi simultaneously is 97.3 per cent complete. With minimal ongoing track laying activity happening at the terminals, trains can now run on the line between the two destinations.
The batch of 6 comprised of 2 DFG7 type shunting locomotives and 4 DF8B type freight locomotives. The locomotives were manufactured by CRRC Qishuyan Co Ltd of China; one of the major diesel locomotive manufacturers. The next batch of rolling stock which will include the passenger train is expected to arrive in the country in early February, 2017.