Kenya Railways Friday announced plans to commence freight operations on the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) line between Mombasa and Nairobi.
Corporation’s Managing Director Atanas Maina told a stakeholders’ forum in Mombasa on Friday that they were ready to start freight train services from December.
We are done with the trial phase where we have been ferrying cargo of small commodities such as maize, rice and milk, he said, adding that the SGR trains were now ready for the haulage of container cargo.
He further said that in the trail phase, they have been able to operate five trains daily laden with 108 twenty-foot equivalent containers between the port of Mombasa and the Inland Container Terminal in Nairobi.
Maina also announced that 1, 300 Kenyans and 550 Chinese expatriates have finished training and were rearing to operationalise the freight commercial services.
He said Kenya Railways had ordered for 1, 620 freight wagons and locomotives from China and has so far received 980 of them, and were able to begin commercial services without further delay.
The MD announced that once the freight trains were done with their maiden trips, the daily trains plying Mombasa and Nairobi would be raised to ten cargo trains per day.
In the end, we will be delivering 450, 000 containers per annum to inland container terminal in Nairobi’s Embakasi area, he said.
Maina said the train freight services would not interfere with the SGR daily passenger trains plying the 472 kilometer Mombasa-Nairobi route.
He said Kenya Railways, Kenya Ports Authority, the Kenya Revenue Authority and the China Road and Bridge Corporation have completed developing the standard operating procedure for the freight services and that they were now ‘good to go’.
We are prevailing upon the shipping fraternity that sending cargo by train would be a lot faster and cheaper in the long run than doing so by road, he said.
Maersk Line Shipping Company Managing Director Mads Skov Hansen welcomed the freight services saying it would in the long run bring down the cost of doing business in the region.
Our concerns have long been the security and safety of cargo being transported through the trucks and the existing meter gauge railway and we are excited that the SGR will deliver on security, safety and reliability, he said.
Source: Kenya News Agency