The Kenya Electricity Transmission Company (KETRACO) has sought approval from the environmental watchdog to electrify the standard gauge railway (SGR) line between Mombasa and Nairobi.
Nema through the latest Kenya Gazette notice says KETRACO had filed the Environmental Impact Assessment and is seeking to construct 12 transmission lines and 14 substations along the SGR line.
The design of the SGR rail line — which is currently run by diesel-powered locomotives — allows for the addition of a single electric line.
An electric track was mooted for fast movement of bigger containers and passengers in the quest to boost East Africa’s competitiveness as an investment destination.
“Kenya Electricity Transmission Company IS proposing to construct twelve (12) transmission lines and fourteen (14) substations for supply of high voltage power to the Nairobi-Mombasa Standard Gauge Railway Line (SGR) and the economic belt along the railway line,” said NEMA in a public call for views on the project, which is expected to take 28 months.
“The proposed project will traverse five (5) counties: Kilifi, Kwale, Taita Taveta, Makueni, and Machakos counties.”
The electricity will also spur growth of factories, businesses and urban centres along the railway line, Ketraco added.
Ketraco in January signed a $240 million (Sh24.4 billion) loan deal with China Electric Power Equipment and Technology Company Limited (CET) for the electrification.
China Road and Bridge Corporation, which was appointed to build the Mombasa-Nairobi line, will be offered 15 per cent over the current construction costs of Sh327 billion or Sh49.05 billion more to upgrade the line.
Kenya Railways earlier said electrifying the line would enhance the speed of the railway, but could not take Kenya to speeds of up to 250km per hour seen in developed nations such as China, Germany and UK.
The move to electrify the rail comes at a time when Kenya Railways is need of more revenues to support the mega project that was built on debt.
Cargo charges on the standard gauge railway (SGR) from Mombasa to Nairobi will rise by up to 79 per cent from January 1 in bid to raise more revenue to pay the Chinese operator.