Plans are underway to modify the Mombasa- Nairobi section of the Standard Gauge Railway with the option of electrifying the operations at an estimated cost of Sh 25 Billion.
The current design of the SGR, costing Sh324 billion, did not factor electrifying the line as the government at the moment said the country lacked reliable power to support operations of the line. However, with recent investments in both Turkana Wind Power and Ethiopia Kenya line has provided more power for the country in excess of its demand.
The National Environmental Management Authority (Nema) has sought public views after Ketraco filed the Environmental Impact Assessment seeking approval to start the project. The public view of the project is expected to take 28 months.
“The proponent, Ketraco, is proposing to construct 12 transmission lines and 14 sub-stations for supply of high voltage power to the Nairobi-Mombasa SGR line and the economic belt along the railway line,” said Nema . “The proposed project will traverse five counties – Kilifi, Kwale, Taita Taveta, Makueni and Machakos.”
In January this year, Ketraco signed a contract worth $240M with China Electric Power Equipment and Technology Company Limited (CET) for the electrification of the SGR rail line that is currently powered by diesel.
Ketraco urgues that the project will not only power the SGR but will promote the rise of new industries along the railway line boosting President Uhuru Kenyatta’s industrialization agenda.
The design of the SGR railway, initially run by diesel-powered locomotives, allows for the addition of a single electric line that will be connected to KETRACO’s 482km 400kV Mombasa-Nairobi Transmission Line (MNTL).
During the construction of the first phase, critiques singled out the lack of electricity in the line as araw deal with cheaper and modern lines in Ethiopia and Morroco being compared to the Kenya’s SGR.
While addressing Parliament earlier in the year, CS of Transport James Macharia noted that the country was working on increasing the national power availability.
“The power supply that we have in this country is not guaranteed. There are frequent power outages that could derail the running of the trains. We need at least 80 per cent guaranteed supply to even think of upgrading SGR to an electric rail.”