Rift Valley Railways receives three new locomotives, 11 others expected by April next year


Port workers inspect one of the three locomotives as they were being off-loaded from the BBC Oder at the Port of Mombasa. The locomotives are expected to help Rift Valley Railways boost efficiency.

Rift Valley Railways (RVR) expects to double its cargo capacity to 300,000 tonnes next year, following the delivery of 20 new locomotive engines that will operate on the Mombasa-Uganda line.

RVR Regional Head Engineer Oliver Omondi who spoke at the Port of Mombasa on Saturday during the offloading of three new locomotives imported from the US, said the arrival of the new fleet would boost efficiency.

The special chartered vessel, MV BBC Oder, docked at the harbour on December 27.

The railway concessionaire believe the investment will make it more competitive against trucks in the transporting of bulky and heavy commodities across East Africa.

RVR ferried 1.2 million tonnes of cargo last year compared to 1.3 million tonnes in 2012, signalling that truckers continue to gain market share in the local logistics market.

“The new locomotives are going to improve the carrying capacity of RVR. We expect to double cargo haulage capacity once the whole fleet arrives in April,” said Omondi.

He said the fleets are expected to ensure that more freight is moved out of the port to ease congestion.

Omondi said RVR ordered 20 locomotives and nine had already been delivered. The remaining 11 are expected in the country by April 2015.

The new 96 class 12-cylinder, turbo-charged engines, acquired from American industrial conglomerate General Electric, is part of the company’s strategy to replace its nearly obsolete fleet.

RVR is expected to combine the new locomotives with others that are being rehabilitated in the rail operator’s Nairobi workshop.

Investments in a more modern and powerful locomotive fleet, upgrading of infrastructure and modern rail operating technology have increased the volumes of cargo transported by rail and cut cargo transit times from Mombasa to Kampala by over 40 per cent.

In October, RVR began training its team of 135 drivers on a Sh160 million train simulator that would improve driver skills and performance while improving train operating efficiency.

The technology allows the inputting of data gathered from different sections of the railway line to simulate a range of operating parameters and has an actual size driver’s cabin with real-life sound cues.

The operator navigates the train through a large video display of the track while an on-board computer and monitors help the driver to operate the train.

The simulator is manufactured by the New York Air Brake Corporation, a leading producer of high-technology train control systems for the railroad industry worldwide.


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