THE TANZANIAN government and Rites of India signed a 25-year concession for operation of the 2 700 km metre gauge state railway on September 3. The government holds 49% in the newly-established Tanzania Railway Ltd, with Rites holding 51%. Operation of Tanzania Railways Corp is scheduled to be officially handed over on October 1.

A new company, Reli Assets Holding Co, has been formed to oversee the agreement and monitor TRL's performance. It will also supervise investment in rail infrastructure. The Surface & Marine Transport Regulatory Authority, a department of the Ministry of Infrastructure Development, will act as regulator.

The agreement was signed by TRL Director Sudhir Kumar and Agnes Bukuku, Acting Chairman of the Rahco board. The ceremony had initially been scheduled to take place in 2006 (RG 9.06 p486), but was postponed after the government, Rites and the International Finance Corp differed on the terms of the agreement. TRL expects to take on 3 286 TRC staff, but another 3?204 will be made redundant.

The concessionaire's initial priority is to revive passenger services from Dar-es-Salaam, suspended due to the poor condition of the infrastructure. TRL Managing Director Narasimhaswami Jayaram said last month that track on the 645 km main line from Dar-es-Salaam to Mwanza and Kigoma will be relaid with 40 kg/m rail, replacing a mix of different rail weights. Recovered 30 kg/m rail would be used to rehabilitate the Tanga line, he explained.

A batch of 10 redundant Indian metre gauge diesel locos is being rehabilitated at Sabarmati depot in Ahmedabad for use in Tanzania, receiving dual braking, improved cabs and new vigilance controls. The first five were due to be shipped in September, with the remainder following by the end of the year.