The first of the newly acquired Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) trains successfully completed its maiden test trip to Mombasa from Nairobi. This was during the test run held on Wednesday, March 8, and which saw participation from Kenya Railways and the TSDI-APEC-EDON Consortium (TAEC) representatives. The team from Kenya Railways comprised of members of the SGR Transaction advisory Committee and the SGR Project Implementation Team (PIT). The train which consisted of two passenger locomotives and four coaches took slightly over 6 hours to complete the journey having left the Nairobi SGR Terminus at 9:30 am and arrived in Mombasa at 4:10 pm.
“It is the first time the train is running on the section between Mtito Andei and Mombasa. The line has not been tested and also the communication between the train crew and the station is not seamless hence why we had to travel at 80 km/h and below in this section. This train will be used to test the line between Mtito Andei and Mombasa for the next two weeks. Afterwards the train will run at the project 120 km/h across the entire network and will beat the projected timeline of four and a half hours,” said the SGR Technical Advisor Eng. Solomon Ouna.
The line, locomotive and rolling stock test marked the first time a train has traversed the entire SGR track. From Nairobi to Mtito Andei which is the midpoint of the 472 kilometre stretch between Mombasa and Nairobi, the train travelled at speeds of between 100km/h and 125 km/h and arrived in Mtito Andei in 2 hours 5 minutes. After a 50 minutes stopover in Mtito Andei Intermediate station, the train travelled at speeds of 80 km/h and below and arrived in Mombasa at 4:14 pm.
Besides testing of the locomotive, other aspects of the testing included functional testing of the air and braking systems, installed software for all systems, communication systems and empty and fully loaded weight verification.
While speaking to journalists on arrival in Mombasa, Eng. Johnson Matu of TSDI-APEC-EDON Consortium (TAEC) who are charged with design review and construction supervision of the project said the trains met the objective of the test exercise.
Ms. Victoria Mulwa of the Legal department who was part of the team from Kenya Railways said, “It is a happy moment to have been on this maiden trip. This is an important step for the Corporation and our drive to upscale the role of the railway transport sector in Kenya’s transport and logistics scene continues unabated. The successful completion of the journey fills us with confidence that we are on track to meet the standards expected of the entire project..”
In a related development, the Corporation has taken delivery of 150 flat wagons to be used for freight transportation during the operation stage of the Standard Gauge Railway line.
This is the second batch of wagons delivered under the SGR line development in Kenya following delivery of 60 open wagons last month. The 25 tonne axle flat wagons are suited for operations on the 1435 mm SGR line; can carry a payload of 70 tonnes and are designed to run at 120 km/h.
Kenya Railways Managing Director Mr. A. K. Maina disclosed that the flat wagons are used for general transportation purposes and will be used for transportation of all types of containers. They will also be used to transport large size cargo such as steel, automobiles, tractors and box-cargo. He further said that, three types of wagons have been ordered for operations on the SGR line: open-top wagons, covered wagons and flat wagons.
Operations on the SGR line will engineer a significant shift of freight transported from road to rail. Freight trains on the SGR line are able to haul 4,000 tonnes per trip and 22 million tonnes per annum. These will translate to less wear and tear on Kenya roads and will significantly contribute to growth in the Nation’s GDP.
To date Kenya Railways has received eight (8) freight haulage heavy duty locomotives for mainline use out of the total expected forty three (43), two (2) shunting locomotives out of the eight (8) on order, two (2) passenger locomotives with another three (3) expected by May to complete the order, thirty two (32) passenger coaches out of the forty (40) on order and 210 wagons out of the total order of 1,620.