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Uganda and Tanzania have decided to have their new standard gauge railway lines built with electric capability, as they plan to eventually upgrade to electric trains when energy supply needs are eventually met.
Kenya says it will upgrade its new SGR line to electric in four year’s time as the design allows for the addition of a single electric line at a cost of $480 million, once the power supply becomes dependable, according to Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia.
The electric component will cost 15 per cent of the money already spent on the construction of the 472km Mombasa-Nairobi line.
“We didn’t want to construct an electric line since we don’t have a dependable source of electricity. So we had to construct a diesel locomotive line but with a capability of upgrading it,” said Mr Macharia.
Uganda’s SGR project co-ordinator Kasingye Kyamugamba said that they have chosen to have an electric element incorporated in their project because, “We have been assured of adequate power from the ongoing energy projects at Karuma and Isimba. This decision was also based on the costing factor, given that after completion, the long term costs of operation and maintenance will be cheaper than diesel.”
Uganda and Tanzania are planning to buy trains with an electric element. And while Kenya’s trains run on diesel engines, Ethiopia has the China Class 2, with a mixture of diesel and electrical engines.
The Ethiopia-Djibouti train line in Addis Ababa. The 750 kilometre railway, built by two Chinese companies, links Addis Ababa to the Red Sea port city of Djibouti in about 10 hours
This article first appeared on www.theeastafrican.co.ke
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