12 November 2012

Tanzania: State Keen to Revive Central Rail Line

Photo: Zahur Ramji/Flickr
President Jakaya Kikwete (file photo).

THE government has shown the desire to revamp the central railway line by ordering 13 new diesel powered locomotives and nearly 300 passengers and goods wagons.

The Deputy Minister for Transport, Dr Charles Tizeba, said that was made possible after the government provided funds as per the ministry's request in 2012/13 budget proposal to revamp the central line. "The government set aside the said fund as per TRL's (Tanzania Railways Limited) budget proposalÉ the fund is ready, that is why TRL invited bidders," Dr Tibeza said in a telephone interview from Dodoma.

He, however, could not reveal the amount set aside, pointing out that that would interfere with the tendering process. The deputy minister noted that ordering and receiving locomotives would take between 15 and 18 months. "During this lead time TRL technicians are going to overhaul 15 locomotives. We also plan to lease 18 engines to bridge the lead-time," he told the 'Daily News'.

"Availability of passenger and cargo wagons won't take that long but there is a waiting period," he said. Last week, TRL invited bids to supply 13 new 2000-2200 horse power diesel locomotives, which the deputy minister said would take time from the day of ordering to deliver.

Others are 25 new ballast hoper bogie wagons, these an open carriage meant to transport bulk minerals the like coal, gypsum and aggregate. Also, TRL wanted to obtain 174 covered large bogie wagons, 50 fuel tanks and 50 container carrier bogie totalling 274 goods wagons.

TRL network has the capacity of transporting five million tonnes of cargo per year, but only about 10 per cent is currently being utilised due to what some say is the outcome of developing a railway line without prioritizing. Apart from saving fuel, an efficient rail system would help extend the life shelf of the country's roads, that is, by protecting them from being damaged quickly by heavy duty vehicles.

This is based on the fact that the amount of cargo to be lifted by 40 trucks can easily fit into the 40 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) from the port of Dar es Salaam to be transported by a goods train. TRL's gauge is 1,000 mm (3 ft 3 3/8 in) and the total length is about 2,600 kilometres.

The Central Line runs from Dar es Salaam to Kigoma, and the Tanga Line from Tanga to Arusha. The main line has other branches, one to Lake Victoria where a connection operates via Lake Victoria train ferries with the Uganda Railway. From the Tanga line there was an EARH line to Kenya but this is now disused.

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