NAIROBI, KENYA: The Kenya Electricity Transmission Company (KETRACO) has entered a deal with China Electric Power Equipment and Technology Company Limited (CET) to electrify the Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway in two years.
The deal, valued at Shs 24.2 billion, will link the railway line to a power line, which will run along with the rail. The current design of the SGR has an allowance for the construction of a single electric line.
Initial announcements suggested that China Road and Bridges Corporation, the same firm that constructed the SGR, would be handling the electric upgrade under a Sh 49.05 billion contract.
Since the construction of the SGR project, the government had communicated plans to electrify the line, stating that electrification would increase the speed and efficiency of the line and lower the high costs of operating diesel-powered trains, since the electricity used to power them would be derived from cheap energy sources.
Along with the line’s electrification, the contract will lead to the construction of 14 sub-stations along the Nairobi-Mombasa route.
The signing of the contract comes more than a week after Atanas Maina, the Kenya Railways Managing Director, indicated that the electrification of the railway line would not proceed as planned.
Maina cited high electrification costs and Kenya’s unreliable electricity supply as the major reasons for suspension of the electrification project.
In total, it is estimated that the electric upgrade of the Nairobi-Mombasa line will cost Shs 65 billion, which is 20 percent of the initial cost of constructing the Nairobi-Mombasa SGR line.
Should these plans go ahead, train riders will enjoy faster speeds and consequently, faster travel times. However, it is still unclear how the railway will be able to sustain its energy demands without interfering with the county's current power supply arrangements.