NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 5 – Rift Valley Railways (RVR) has purchased 20 locomotives at a cost of Sh357 million under an expansion programme to double its locomotive and wagon fleet by June next year.
The 12-cylinder, turbocharged engines, built by American industrial conglomerate General Electric, will be delivered between March and the end of June next year.
Locomotives are powered rail vehicles, normally used to pull trains along the railway tracks.
Since 2010, RVR shareholders have injected over Sh13 billion to improve railway infrastructure and install modern, GPS-based train management technology in Kenya and Uganda.
“Investing in expanding our cargo haulage capacity to meet growing demand is the logical next step in our plans,” RVR Group CEO Darlan De David said.
RVR recently rebuilt 73km of railway track between Nairobi and Mombasa, which lifted speed restrictions on these sections and cut cargo transit time between the two cities by six hours.
The company recently rehabilitated and reopened the 500km Tororo-Gulu-Pakwach railway line in northern Uganda.
This track will facilitate delivery of rail cargo from Gulu by road to South Sudan and Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
“This capacity expansion will dramatically increase our rail cargo carrying ability which will be a boon to freight transporters not only in Kenya and Uganda, but across East Africa,” De David added.
When added to ongoing locomotive rehabilitation in progress in its Nairobi plant, the 20 trains will double RVR’s wagon-moving capability.
The wagon refurbishment programme underway in RVR’s Nairobi and Kampala factories is expanding the fleet at the rate of 50 wagons per month, with a view to tripling the wagon operating convoy by 2015.