SGR Mombasa Terminus on Mon, 2. May 2022. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

The Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) today celebrates yet another milestone as it marks 2000 days of safe passenger and freight services. In determining passenger safety, protection against criminal activity comes into play.

This entails security checks at the entrance of train stations, with police officers stationed in the stations and on-board the trains.

Notably, security patrols along the corridor before the passenger train passes, ensure the safety of the running trains.

Guidelines on human behaviour have also been set against certain activities such as running in the station and on board the train.

Passenger and station attendants guide passengers and signs are placed in the stations and onboard the trains. In terms of health, passenger attendants are trained in First Aid. They request for medical professionals on board to assist ailing passengers and the train stops at the nearest station so that the passenger can be attended to at a medical facility. To take care of any fire incidents, four fire extinguishers are placed in every coach.

As is the norm with passenger safety, the operator also gives prominence to the security of cargo.

Sufficient security personnel patrol the entire SGR corridor to ensure trespassers do not access the freight train. Additionally, the speed of the train deters people from attempting to steal any cargo.

There is also a guard fence on either side of the SGR track.

Also noteworthy is the fact that each type of cargo is transported on specific types of wagons.

For instance, flatbed wagons are used to carry containerised cargo and steel coils. Another example is the use of box cars to transport tea, fertiliser and sugar.

Extra safety measures are taken for the handling of dangerous goods such as flammable liquids, corrosive material and oxidising substances.

Staff must also follow strict guidelines when loading containers to ensure they are securely affixed to the train. Offloading guidelines ensure efficient loading onto trucks and transhipment onto metre gauge railway (MGR) rail in Naivasha.

But the passengers also have a role to play. The passenger safety regulations on board the locomotive and the stations are guided by railway industry standards. These include the placement of warning signs at the stations and on board the train.

Reduce accidents

The signs include those cautioning passengers not to lean on the train doors while onboard the train and a sign at the elevator informing passengers not to leave their bags unattended to, to reduce accidents.

On the platform, there is a white line accompanied by a yellow one, with tactile paving for the visually impaired. These lines mark the safe zone on the platforms.

Passengers are advised not to pass the safe zone as they may fall onto the track and injure themselves.

Safety announcements are also made at the stations and onboard the trains. SGR’s impeccable safety records over time can be attributed to the promotion of a safety culture.

This includes annual and quarterly recognition of safety champions, adherence to strict railway rules and regulations, safety inspections, periodic and corrective maintenance and use of railway technology. At the operational level, specific rules and regulations are key for railway staff to deliver safe, efficient, and reliable operations or services.

SGR operations and maintenance regulations were created to be followed by staff in the Track, Signal, Locomotive, Rolling Stock, Transport and Dispatch Centre specialities.

The SGR owes its success to these safety measures. Launched on May 31, 2017, the SGR passenger service had ferried 8.78 million passengers while the freight services launched in the same year on December 1, had transported 22.69 million tonnes of cargo (1.99 million TEUs) as of November 15, 2022.

Afristar, the SGR operator, ferried 2.01 million passengers between January 1 to November 15, and 425,622 TEUs between January 1 and October 31.

Since SGR’s inception over five years ago, the operator has employed 2,708 Kenyan staff, with 902 of them being transferred to Kenya Railways.

The writer comments on transport, logistics and infrastructure development