By The Citizen…..
Dar es Salaam. The Tanzania Railways Corporation (TRC) has said it will receive the first batch of the 42 electric trains it had ordered by November this year.
Arrival of the locomotives, which are Tanzania’s first electric trains, means that the country can soon start operating the Dar es Salaam-Morogoro section of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR).
This is according to Works and Transport Minister Dr Leonard Chamuriho, who spoke this week after overseeing signing of the contract between TRC and Hyundai Rotem.
“Earlier, we procured 42 electric locomotives from Germany and South Korea. Once they arrive in November, testing of the SGR section from Dar es Salaam to Morogoro will commence,” he said.
During the signing, TRC was represented by director-general Masanja Kadogosa, while Hyundai Rotem was represented by senior manager Lee Se-Han.
Mr Kadogosa said it was encouraging to see that the contractor had taken the initiative to train Tanzanian engineers on how to operate the SGR trains.
“In every contract that we have signed so far, there is a component that compels the teaching of local experts on maintenance, signals and driving. This will enable our experts to be trained in different areas. We want more local engineers to be competent in all the aspects just like the way we have our own experts operating Air Tanzania,” he said.
Mr Kadogosa said 200 engineers and 10 drivers will go South Korea to learn how to operate electric trains.
“The approach we are using is to allow locals experts to operate in the SGR instead of going for foreign engineers,” he emphasised.
He also revealed that construction of the Dar es Salaam-Morogoro section of the SGR was 92.7 per cent complete, and that the contractor, Turkish firm Yapi Merkezi, was completing the remaining 15 kilometres.
Tanzania says it settled on Hyundai Rotem to supply its trains since it is a big, reputable company that has been operating for many years.
In his remarks, Mr Se-Han said the manufacturer was happy to work with TRC to supply 80 electric multiple units (EMUs) and 17 electric locomotives for the SGR.
“We are confident that through close cooperation we will be able to manufacture the electric locomotives within the specified time of 25 months,” he said.
The deal with Hyundai follows Tanzania’s plan to modernise its railroads after injecting $6.9 billion into upgrading its old rail system.
Tanzania’s railways were narrower than standard gauges, and trains had to be driven at slow speeds of between 30 to 40 kilometres per hour.
However, the new rails mean that electric locomotives and EMUs supplied by Hyundai Rotem can run at maximum speeds of up to 160 kilometres per hour