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Kenya Railways to operate express trains on Standard Gauge Railway

BUSINESS
By Macharia Kamau | January 20th 2017

Kenya Railways (KR) has defended the quality of trains that will be operated on the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR).

The firm has also announced it will operate express trains to be known as intercity trains between Nairobi and Mombasa, with the journey between the two cities expected to take four hours.

The trains will make only one stop at Mtito Andei to allow for the crossing of another train in the opposite direction. KR Managing Director Atanas Maina said yesterday the firm will also operate county trains, which will make seven stops along the railway route, with each stop lasting a maximum of five minutes.

He said the county trains are expected to take five hours and 25 minutes between Nairobi and Mombasa. The passenger trains, added Mr Maina, will be given priority over cargo trains.

“The railway will operate freight and passenger services. Passenger trains will be given priority on the line. Freight trains will be stopped at the crossing stations to enable passenger trains to pass in the same or opposite direction. This is a common practice all over the World,” he said.

Experts and Kenyans at large have questioned whether the country got value for money in the locomotives deal with China, with some arguing that they are outdated and unlikely to hit top speeds, thus negating their acquisition.

But Maina said contrary to speculation, the locomotives are state-of-the-art engines and will attain high speeds on track and substantially reduce travel time between Nairobi and Mombasa.

He noted that while the locomotives can achieve a speed of 120 kilometres per hour, the intercity trains will travel at a speed of 100 kilometres while the county trains will travel at 85 kilometres per hour.

This will mean that the 457-kilometre journey between Mombasa West and Nairobi South passenger stations will take the intercity trains four and a half hours while the county trains will take about five hours and 25 minutes.

“The average speed takes care of slow running on heavy gradients and braking from and accelerating to sectional speeds. The county passenger train, therefore, has a lower average speed due to the more frequent stops at designated passenger stations,” said Mr Maina.

He said the railway line has seven designated stops - Mariakani, Miasenyi, Voi, Mtito Andei, Kibwezi, Emali and Athi River.

“All the other 26 stations are passing stations where passenger train will not stop,” said Maina.

The new line is expected to be completed and become operational in the coming months, with a test ride between Mombasa and Nairobi set for June.

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