Kiha 183 cars arrive photo gov of DR Congo (1)

DR CONGO: Seven cars of an ex-JR Hokkaido Kiha 183 trainset were delivered to the port of Matadi on December 13 for use by Office National des Transports.

The intermediate and driving cars were built by Fuji Heavy Industries and Niigata Engineering between 1979 and 1992. They had been in use as four-car Limited Express diesel multiple-units with JR Hokkaido until their withdrawal in March.

The 1067 mm gauge trainsets are capable of 100 km/h.

Kinshasa – Matadi route modernisation

Kiha 183 cars arrive photo gov of DR Congo (2)

The vehicles have been acquired as part of a US$500m public-private partnership package agreed between the Congolese government and industrial company ARISE Integrated Industrial Platforms. They are to enter service on the 366 km long, 1 067 mm gauge Kinshasa – Matadi line.

The US$500m scheme also covers rehabilitation of the infrastructure along the route and upgrading of the signalling system.

Regular passenger services on the route ended in 2005, although one pair of trains a week was restored in September 2015. In August 2019 suburban services on the 35 km section of the line from Kasangulu to Kinshasa, and freight traffic between Kinshasa and Matadi resumed. However, the overall condition of the Kinshasa – Matadi line is still very poor.

The rail investment is intended to ease congestion on the Kinshasa – Matadi main road.

Pivot from Sierra Leone

Kiha 183 cars arrive photo gov of DR Congo (3)

In January the government of Sierra Leone signed an agreement with ARISE IIP for the acquisition of the seven Kiha 183 cars as part of plans to upgrade the 84 km mining railway between the port of Pepel and Tonkolili to support passenger services. However, this deal was subsequently terminated by ARISE IIP.

However, the seven DMU cars left Hakodate in Japan in September and were delivered to the port of Freetown in Sierra Leone, from where they were transferred to Matadi.