Kenya Railways Corporation (KRC) prepares to launch cargo operations on its Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) line early next year, with commercial trials already being undertaken to test logistics preparedness.
Road transporters have been charging an average of $ 800 (Sh80,000) per twenty foot equivalent units (TEU) container from the coastal city to Nairobi’s Nairobi Inland Container Depot (ICD).
KRC will, however, charge $500 (Sh50,000) to transport the same size of container between the cities. Traders will, however cover for the last mile costs to their respective premises, a fact that could still match the rail road cost.
For instance, it will cost Sh275 per tonne of agricultural input, Sh330 per tonne of light bulky goods and Sh660 per tonne of a vehicle, from Nairobi to Mombasa within a distance of 200 kilometeres.
In the opposite direction (Mombasa-Nairobi), the SGR freight service will charge Sh550 per tonne of agricultural inputs, Sh1,430 per tonne of light cargo and Sh1,320 per tonne of vehicles within the same distance.
Cargo trains will charge Sh1,100 per tonne of agricultural inputs, Sh2,860 per tonne of light bulky goods and Sh2,640 per tonne of vehicles within a distance of between 350 and 400 kilometres from the port of Mombasa to Nairobi. The opposite direction will attract a 50 per cent discount for each category.
SGR trains have a capacity to clear cargo population at a rate of 1,000 containers per day carrying an average of 88 (TEU).
According to KRC, the country has so far received 25 freight locomotives out of the 43 on order. It has also received 763 wagons out of the 1,620 units it expects.
The 25-tonne axle flat wagons can each carry a payload of 70 tonnes, implying 1143,400 tonnes can be hauled in all of them and deployed on a single trip to Nairobi.
The trains are designed to move at a speed of 80 km per hour, compared to the existing metre gauge rail trains, which on average do about half that speed.
The launch of the cargo service will bring the railway to full operation, with the line having been transporting passengers since June.
The second phase of construction of the SGR running 120 kilometres to Naivasha is set to begin in earnest in the new year, with the railway expected to reach Kisumu by 2022.