The government is set to receive 50 more locomotives by May 2017, ahead of the commissioning of the Sh372 billion standard gauge railway (SGR) on June 1.
Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia said in Mombasa on Wednesday that the second batch of six locomotives are expected to arrive at the Mombasa port in February while the last batch of 44 will be delivered by May 2017.
The minister, who spoke at the port when he received the first batch of six locomotives and railway engines, said the SGR project will be completed 18 months ahead of schedule.
He was accompanied by Transport and Infrastructure Principal Secretaries Irungu Nyakera and John Mosonik, Kenya Ports Authority Managing Director Catherine Mturi-Wairi and Kenya Railways Corporation chairman Jeremiah Kianga.
The six locomotives, which were manufactured by China Railway Rolling Stock Corporation Company, included four freight locomotives.
They were delivered by the Chinese Engineering, Procurement and Construction Company and China Road and Bridge Corporation.
“I am glad that the standard gauge railway civil works were completed in November last year and now we have started to receive the 56 locomotives in batches,” he said.
Mr Macharia added that 1,620 freight wagons are expected to arrive in Mombasa in the next three months while 40 coaches are to be delivered by March.
“After having received all the locomotives, wagons and coaches by May this year, we expect President Uhuru Kenyatta to officially commission the railway project on June 1 (Madaraka Day),” he said.
When operations start on June 1, he said the standard gauge railway project will start revolutionise transport in the country.
He noted that the railway will boost transportation of cargo from the Mombasa port to Nairobi and decongest the harbour.
“The operation of the standard gauge railway will come in handy in helping clearing of cargo at the port following the commissioning of the second container terminal last year,” he said.
“Transportation of cargo from Mombasa to Nairobi will take between six and eight hours compared to 20 hours by road,” he explained.
On the other hand, he said passengers travelling by SGR trains will take only four hours to reach Nairobi unlike the eight hours its takes by road.
“The railway will also reduce transport costs, thereby bringing down the cost of doing business in the country,” he added.