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Kenya ships refurbished diesel trains to Nairobi

Thursday July 16 2020
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Housing Principal Secretary Charles Hinga shared on Twitter the pictures of the second hand DMUs, as they were loaded onto trucks in Mallorca on their way to Barcelona. PHOTO | TWITTER

By PAUL WAFULA

The refurbished Diesel Multiple Units (DMUs) bought for Nairobi City will arrive in Kenya next month as the country moves to modernise the urban commuter trains in the capital.

Housing Principal Secretary Charles Hinga said on Thursday in a tweet that the DMUs bought from an island in Spain were finally on the way. 

Mr Hinga also shared the pictures of the second hand DMUs, as they were loaded onto trucks in Mallorca on their way to Barcelona.

He said from Barcelona, they would then be shipped to Mombasa on July 21, 2020. They are expected to arrive at the Mombasa port 25 days later, which will be on or about August 16.

The PS was not immediately available on phone to give more details on the development.

Cabinet last year approved the plan by Kenya Railways to buy 11 DMUs through a government-to-government arrangement.

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DMUs are double train cars but can be marshalled to have triple units or better still, marshal double/triple train units as dictated by the demand based on passenger numbers.

A Double Train Car Unit can ferry 300 passengers (seated and standing). A triple unit would transport 450 passengers while marshalling two DMU units would double the numbers.

The refurbished engines are expected to boost the plan by Nairobi Commuter Rail (NCR) to increase the number of train commuter users from the current 300,000 to three million a month.

Kenya Railways said it acquired the 11 refurbished DMUs, five coaches and spare parts from Serveis Ferroviaris de Mallorca (SFM) at a negotiated price of Sh1.15 billion. The diesel units have a remaining economic useful life of 23-25 years.

Kenya Railways Managing Director Philip Mainga said in an earlier interview that the DMUs would be used on the Nairobi Commuter Rail (NCR).

They should give a major boost to the ongoing reforms to turn around the capital, and city transport is one of the key deliverables for the new Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS), which is now under the management of President Uhuru Kenyatta.

In defending why Kenya opted to buy old diesel trains, Mr Mainga said Kenya Railways through the funding from the World Bank, undertook a study on the Commuter Rail Masterplan within Nairobi Metropolitan region. The study is what led to a cabinet decision to import the DMUs.

“The NCR is a project that aims to modernise and expand underutilised railway transport infrastructure facilities within Nairobi to attract passenger traffic from the roads, thus reducing congestion and creating an efficient and affordable mass rapid transit transport system for the city,” Mr Mainga said.

He said the project would also integrate rail transport with other modes of transport, such as road and air.

“This is also in tandem with the ongoing government efforts to decongest the Nairobi CBD,” he said.

Mainga noted that the project’s objectives are to modernise approximately 150km of track and infrastructure on four major routes radiating from the CBD, introduce modern rolling stock, develop a new 6.5km railway line to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and provide safe, reliable and affordable services.

This comes at a time when the government has launched the construction of Jomo Kenyatta International Airport -James Gichuru road express way.

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