Regional rail operator, Rift Valley Railways (RVR) plans to purchase 120 additional wagons to deal with the rising haulage capacity. This follows after a management agreement was signed in Uganda recently to allow RVR to operate and manage the Inland Container Depot in Mukono. The wagons to be purchased at a cost of KES665.76m from China CNR Corporation will be delivered in November.
The wagons with a capacity of 60 tonnes on each wagon compared to 40 tons allowed in the current wagon fleet. They will be used to carry heavier goods, increase security and become more efficient in loading and offloading. The fleet acquisition process is part of a bigger project to add 400 wagons under a KES30bn capital expenditure programme from January 2012 to revive the railway. The renewal program has seen RVR invest KES13.19bn in putting up modern rail operating technology, rebuild infrastructure, expand haulage capacity and develop modern rail operating skills among its workforce. It also plans to complete repair on most damaged parts between Mombasa and Nairobi as well as rehabilitation and reopening of the 500 km railway from Tororo to Gulu in northern Uganda.
Construction of SGR is progressing well and is expected to be complete by 2017. More than 60 per cent of the earthworks are complete and about 50 per cent of the bridges are done. To this effect, Kenya Railways Corporation has acquired special locomotives engines in the laying of the SGR track that have already been offloaded from Mombasa port. The locomotives will be used to lay the standard gauge railway line from two points in November – one from Mtito Andei headed to Mombasa and the other from Emali to Nairobi.
RVR and its investors, Qalaa Holdings are certain that once the standard gauge railway project is complete and operational, their meter-gauge railway will still be competitive. Kenya Railways also intends to introduce refurbished coaches to all commuter routes. Kikuyu and Ruiru routes will soon have better coaches to ride in as commuters plying the Nairobi Embakasi route are already enjoying the service.