Kenya’s plans to electrify US $3bn Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) begins
The government of Kenya through Kenya Electricity Transmission Company (KETRACO), has began plans to electrify US $3bn Standard Gauge Railway (SGR).
KETRACO said they have sought environmental approval from National Environment Management Authority (Nema) to start construction of 12 transmission lines and 14 substations along the SGR line.
Switch to clean energy
The design of the SGR rail line — which is currently run by diesel-powered locomotives, allows for the addition of a single electric line that will be connected to Ketraco’s 482 kilometer 400kV Mombasa-Nairobi transmission line.
“The main purpose of this venture is to ensure that when the SGR switches to clean energy power source, the supply will be reliable and sufficient for not only the train but other facilities along the Mombasa-Nairobi economic belt, including train stations, planned industries, factories and businesses along the railway line. This will create more major power customers and consumers and bring other opportunities to the locals,” said KETRACO.
Kenya had earlier signed a deal with China Electric Power Equipment and Technology Company Limited (CET) to provide funds needed for the electrification that is estimated to cost US $240m. Nema also said that it was already collecting views regarding the multi-billion project that could see Kenya join the league of African countries like Ethiopia and Egypt which already have electric railway.
The move to electrify the rail however, comes at a time when Kenya Railways is need of more revenues to support the mega project that was built on debt. Cargo charges on the standard gauge railway (SGR) from Mombasa to Nairobi will rise by up to 79% from January 1 in bid to raise more revenue to pay the Chinese operator.