Tanzania SGR launch (Photo TRC)

TANZANIA: Passenger services on the 201·8 km electrified standard gauge railway from Dar es Salaam to Morogoro were formally launched on June 14. President Samia Suluhu Hassan paid the fares for the 1 400 passengers on the first trip.

The journey time is less than 2 h. Services are to be extended to the capital city Dodoma by July 25, reducing the journey time for the 460 km from Dar es Salaam from 8 h by bus to around 3 h.

Deputy Minister for Transport David Kihenzile said Tanzanians should be proud of the railway and see the economic opportunities which it will create, including opportunities for trade with DR Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, Malawi and Zambia.

Tanzania Railway Corp has launched an awareness campaign, using the slogan ‘let’s ride our train, take care of it, cherish it’.

Electrified line

The single track line is electrified at 25 kV 50 Hz and has been designed for passenger trains to operate at up to 160 km/h. Freight trains can run at 120 km/h.

As well as the major stations at Dar es Salaam and Morogoro, the first phase serves intermediate stations at Pugu, Soga, Ruvu and Ngerengere, which have designs based on the local environment, culture and natural resources including minerals. The route includes 26 large and 243 small bridges, 17 overpasses and 15 underpasses.

The line is being operated by national railway TRC, which awarded Hyundai Rotem a contract to supply 17 four-axle E6800 electric locomotives and 10 electric multiple-units.

Long, cheap and modern

Kihenzile said Tanzania was the only country in Africa that was building ‘a long, cheap and modern railway’.

The standard gauge network has been under development since 2012 and is eventually expected to reach more than 2 500 route-km, running inland from the Indian Ocean to serve landlocked central African countries.

Former President John Pombe Joseph Magufuli decided not to rely on Chinese funding for the project, unlike Kenya and Ethiopia which ended up heavily indebted. Financing instead has been secured from Export Credit Bank of Turkey and Standard Chartered Bank, which has enabled contracts to be awarded to a mix of Chinese and non-Chinese companies rather than being reliant on one partner.

The contract for the Dar es Salaam – Morogoro first phase was signed with a 50:50 joint venture of Turkey’s Yapı Merkezi and Portugal’s Mota-Engil Africa in February 2017. A groundbreaking ceremony was held that April, and work began in May. Supervision and project management services were provided by a joint venture led by Korail.