Kenya Railways launch tender for design of new Mombasa line


(Posted 20th July 2013)

Kenya’s seriousness about constructing a second, standard gauge railway line between Mombasa and Nairobi, and eventually on to Kisumu and the Ugandan border, was underscored yesterday when Kenya Railways launched their tender for the design of the new line, including consultancy services and construction supervision.

Tenders for the railway line between the Nairobi Railway Station and Jomo Kenyatta International Airport were also issued at the same time it was learned. The deadline for the tenders is on 29th of August and according to new regulations a tender award must then be made within 30 days, setting the project on course for fast track implementation. Construction period is estimated to take about 3 years, which would set the completion of the new line within the term of office of the current government.

The projects are estimated to cost, at current prices, over 340 billion Kenya Shillings – one US Dollar presently exchanges at around 87 Kenya Shillings – and will largely be financed through a recently introduced levy of 1.5 percent on all imported goods, benefiting a dedicated railway fund.

Rift Valley Railways, which holds a long term concession for the operation of the current railway line, has only recently completed a refurbishment of some 70 kilometers of line between Mombasa and Nairobi, which accounted for more than 2/3’s of the downtime of trains between the two cities and is currently trying to unfold a media blitz to gain in public standing, trying to explain their challenges and how they performed vis a vis the terms of the concession, jointly given by the Kenyan and Ugandan governments. Their shareholders will no doubt, as will their financiers, eye with keen interest what Kenya Railways is planning to accomplish here with the new railroad, which according to some information will allow freight trains a speed of up to 120 km per hour while passenger trains could reach up to 180 km per hour, which would reduce the journey time between the port city of Mombasa to Nairobi to a around 4 hours, stops on the one way rail line of course not included when trains going into the opposite direction need to pass.

The new railroad is one of Kenya’s new wave of major infrastructure projects, aimed to reduce the cost of transport of goods to and from the port to Nairobi but also the African hinterland, where similar projects are being considered. The route will also reinvigorate passenger rail travel, making it safer, more affordable, more comfortable and faster, compared to the present 15 plus hours a passenger train takes between the two cities.

Watch this space for regular news updates from across Eastern Africa.

3 Responses

  1. That is such good news that railway network between Mombasa and Nairobi is to be upgraded! The big question is; Why has it taken so long for this to happen! There has to be a huge story behind this? It is a no brainer that an improved Rail connection network countrywide and inter country would be of enormous benefit for tourism and commerce and, to alleviate the congestion and degradation of our roads by overloaded trucks. There must be a carbon saving factor thrown in here as well, surely! Who remembers the railway network in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania back in the days when nearly everything was moved simply and efficiently by Rail? It was a godsend then for everything agricultural! Wheat, Barley, Oats, Maize, Hay, Straw, livestock, Bloodstock etc were constantly being traded across provinces, districts, and countries. I love and applaud the move to upgrade, question the timing, and cannot wait to see the implementation!

  2. Great news. Safe and ecologically sound. Perhaps Cecil Rhodes dream of a Cape to Cairo railroad will eventually come true. Not many more links needed though some more serious upgrades required.

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