President Uhuru Kenyatta is launching the Standard Gauge Railway line at Changamwe today. This shows the Governments of Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and South Sudan committment to providing high capacity cost effective railway transport within the Northern Corridor.This will be achieved through the construction of the proposed Standard Gauge Railway connecting Mombasa to Malaba (with a branch line to Kisumu) onward to Kampala, Kigali (with branch line to Kasese) and Juba (with a branch line to Pakwach).

The Railway line will have a uniform design specification which will permit seamless operation across the borders and in turn reduce costs. 

The railway development will include upgrading and modernisation of the Railway Training Institutes in Nairobi and Tororo to provide local manpower for the construction and operation of the railways.

Progress in Kenya

The Government of Kenya will develop Mombasa – Malaba/Kisumu section in two phases: Phase 1 from Mombasa to Nairobi and Phase 2 from  Nairobi to Malaba and Kisumu.Construction of phase 1 (Mombasa – Nairobi Section) will commence early 2014 while feasibility studies and preliminary design for phase 2 are in progress.

The Government of Kenya is in the process of consolidating funding for phase 1 (Mombasa to Nairobi section) and so far has made budgetary allocation in the 2013/14 budget as well as setting up a railway development fund to be financed by a levy on the cost of all imports. Cost of the project is estimated at 223.6 billion Kshs for infrastructure.The Mombasa to Malaba/Kisumu section is expected to be operational by 2018.

Uganda, Rwanda and South Sudan

Feasibility study and the preliminary design of Malaba to Kampala section is in progress. The Governments of Uganda and Rwanda are discussing joint procurement of consultants to undertake the Feasibility Studies and Preliminary Designs of the Kampala to Kasese and Bihanga to Kigali sections. Uganda and South Sudan also intend to jointly study Tororo to Pakwach and Gulu to Juba sections for Standard Gauge Railway installation.

Salient Features of the proposed Standard Gauge Railway

The Railway will be developed for freight and passenger traffic.

• The railway will complement the existing railway and roads, which will continue providing vital transport services for freight destinations and the “last mile” links within and around the region.

• Each freight train will have a capacity of 216 TEUs and will travel at an average speed of 80 kilometres per hour.

• Freight trains will be operated on the basis of speed, safety and cost effectiveness.

• The passenger services will be operated with maximum safety and comfort for passengers at the stations and inside the trains.

• Each passenger train will have a capacity of 960 passengers and will travel at a average speed of 120 kilometers per hour.

• Construction of state-of-the-art stations.

• The railway has been designed for environmental compatibility particularly within the National Parks where fencing will be provided along with under passages for wild animals.

Benefits of the Standard Gauge Railway development

Economic Benefits

The railway development will have the following immediate economic benefits:-

• Reduced cost of transportation in the region making it an attractive investment destination.

• Protect the environment through reduced carbon emission.

• Accelerate industrialisation through easier and cheaper transport and the establishment of new industries to service the new railway.

• Contribute to an annual GDP growth of at least 1.5% during construction and subsequent operation.

• Enhance the region’s competitiveness.

• Reduce congestion at Mombasa Port securing the port as the preferred facility in the region.

• Reduce wear and tear on roads; hence reduce maintenance cost.

• Enhanced freight security.

Social Benefits

The following social benefits will be realised during the construction and operation of the railway:

• Direct jobs: At least 60 new jobs per kilometre of track during construction period.

• Local Industries: Large quantities of local inputs such as steel, cement, aggregates, electricity generation and electricity transmission pylons and cables, roofing materials, glass, etc. required from local industries with potential to create at least 10,000 jobs.

• Service and hospitality industry: Estimated 3,000 jobs to provide foods, accommodation and leisure.

• Skills development: Estimated 15,000 people to acquire skills suitable for self employment after the construction period (masons, carpenters, mechanics, electricians, etc.)

• Technology transfer: Estimated 400 engineers and high technology technicians will be trained during construction and will be available for local and regional railway development.

• Accidents reduction: The railway will reduce the number of heavy trucks on the road thus reducing accident incidents making the roads safer for human traffic.

Source: Kenya Raiilways Corporation

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Kenya Engineer is the definitive publication of Engineers in East Africa & beyond and the official journal of the Institution of Engineers of Kenya. Kenya Engineer has been in publication since 1972.

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