Will Kenya get value for money from its new railway?

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Will Kenya get value for money from its new railway?

Postby David Benton » Thu Jun 08, 2017 3:29 am

"The first major new railway line in Kenya for more than a century, running between the capital Nairobi and the coastal city of Mombasa, faces an immediate challenge of justifying its relatively high cost."
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-40171095
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Re: Will Kenya get value for money from its new railway?

Postby george matthews » Thu Jun 08, 2017 10:16 am

David Benton wrote:"The first major new railway line in Kenya for more than a century, running between the capital Nairobi and the coastal city of Mombasa, faces an immediate challenge of justifying its relatively high cost."
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-40171095

Only when the connections to destinations further west are available will the line achieve profitability. Whether there is much - any - traffic from the Congo remains a speculation. The hope must be that the line will stimulate industry and thus develop new traffic - as the former metre gauge lines did. Also the hope is that traffic will transfer from the dangerous road to rail.

I am glad to see that Kisumu is still considered a possible destination, as I used to travel from there frequently. It will be interesting to see whether the new railway will be fast enough to eliminate the need for sleeping cars, just as the faster European lines have seen the phasing out of many sleeping trains.
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Re: Will Kenya get value for money from its new railway?

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Sat Jun 10, 2017 10:23 am

From Holiday Inn Express; Nashville (ouch, what a weekend to pick to visit friends, some city wide country music festival is going on; I think the $185 rate is as high as I've ever paid at an Express)

The Times reporting yesterday echoes same as that of The BEEB; how do we pay for it?

http://nytimes.com/2017/06/08/world/afr ... press.html

Fair Use:

...President Uhuru Kenyatta’s government spent $4 billion on a 300-mile railway connecting the capital to the Indian Ocean port of Mombasa, the most expensive infrastructure project since Kenya’s independence 54 years ago and one-fifth of its national budget.

Eager to portray it as a major achievement ahead of national elections in August, Mr. Kenyatta opened the so-called Standard Gauge Railway last Wednesday. But the fanfare was overshadowed by a concern that has been snowballing for months, filling many Kenyans with mild terror: How can the country repay its monstrous debt to China...


I know Mr. Benton would prefer not to have politics discussed at his Forum, but I gotta say it; talk about how to get an undeveloped nation into your web, this has to be it.
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Re: Will Kenya get value for money from its new railway?

Postby David Benton » Sun Jun 11, 2017 2:44 am

Not a new thing for China to finance railways in Africa. I haven't heard of them been over demanding or extorting the countries involved.
I think it is simply the case of them having the cash, and obviously it is a good market for their manufacturers, nobody would expect the equipment to be anything but Chinese.
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Re: Will Kenya get value for money from its new railway?

Postby johnthefireman » Mon Jun 12, 2017 11:41 pm

Local media is still telling quite positive stories. Over 17,000 people travelled in the first week or so, which is not bad considering there are only two trains a day. Tickets are sold out. In the near future more trains per day are going to be added, including the stopping trains which will call at seven intermediate stations - currently there is only one stop, at Mtito Andei. However it is freight, not passengers, which is going to generate most of the revenue for this line, and that hasn't begun yet.
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Re: Will Kenya get value for money from its new railway?

Postby george matthews » Wed Jun 14, 2017 10:47 am

David Benton wrote:Not a new thing for China to finance railways in Africa. I haven't heard of them been over demanding or extorting the countries involved.
I think it is simply the case of them having the cash, and obviously it is a good market for their manufacturers, nobody would expect the equipment to be anything but Chinese.

There was a recent tv programme about China's influence on Zambia's railway - the link to Dar es Salaam. The conclusion was that they were ineffective there and that their influence on the railway was not useful.
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Re: Will Kenya get value for money from its new railway?

Postby johnthefireman » Wed Jun 14, 2017 12:20 pm

Yes, but that was forty years ago. Africa, China and the global politico-economic climate have all changed radically since then.
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Re: Will Kenya get value for money from its new railway?

Postby george matthews » Thu Jun 15, 2017 7:30 pm

johnthefireman wrote:Yes, but that was forty years ago. Africa, China and the global politico-economic climate have all changed radically since then.

But the Tazara railway is still badly organised and plagued with all too numerous delays. I hope the new Kenya-Uganda railway will turn out better, when it is built. Meanwhile we must observe the Nairobi-Mombasa link. Moreover, as the metre gauge has been closed after Nairobi I assume that freight from Uganda - and indeed much of Kenya - is not being transported, or only with difficulty if it has to be transferred on to the Standard Gauge.
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Re: Will Kenya get value for money from its new railway?

Postby johnthefireman » Thu Jun 15, 2017 11:23 pm

george matthews wrote:Moreover, as the metre gauge has been closed after Nairobi I assume that freight from Uganda - and indeed much of Kenya - is not being transported, or only with difficulty if it has to be transferred on to the Standard Gauge.


As far as I know the metre gauge has not been closed. It will be some years before freight to Uganda runs on the standard gauge.
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Re: Will Kenya get value for money from its new railway?

Postby george matthews » Sat Jun 17, 2017 11:33 am

johnthefireman wrote:
george matthews wrote:Moreover, as the metre gauge has been closed after Nairobi I assume that freight from Uganda - and indeed much of Kenya - is not being transported, or only with difficulty if it has to be transferred on to the Standard Gauge.


As far as I know the metre gauge has not been closed. It will be some years before freight to Uganda runs on the standard gauge.

Has the metre gauge line from Nairobi to Mombasa been closed? If so, freight would have to be transferred at Nairobi on to SG wagons. Yes, that's possible but it would be at a cost and a danger of pilfering. Passenger travel is one thing. I am sure a reliable train to the coast would be well patronised and may well attract people from air and perhaps from the dangerous buses. I am glad I never travelled to and from Mombasa by road. But the real money is in freight.
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Re: Will Kenya get value for money from its new railway?

Postby johnthefireman » Sun Jun 18, 2017 8:44 am

The metre gauge has not (yet) been closed as far as I know. The standard gauge has only run a couple of test freight trains from Mombasa to Nairobi so far, as I understand it. There is no question of transferring from metre onto standard gauge at Nairobi because the standard gauge does not yet run beyond Nairobi anyway and will not do so for some years. I'm not sure I really understand your point, except that the real money is in freight not passenger, which is taken for granted.
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Re: Will Kenya get value for money from its new railway?

Postby johnthefireman » Sun Jun 18, 2017 9:28 am

Incidentally, if the moderator will allow me to link to another site, I have posted most of the press articles I can find on the opening of the Kenyan standard gauge line on the Friends of the Rail Forum at http://www.friendsoftherail.com/forum/v ... 27&t=15449, and I'm still updating it. It includes a lot of local media stories
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Re: Will Kenya get value for money from its new railway?

Postby george matthews » Sun Jun 18, 2017 1:42 pm

johnthefireman wrote:The metre gauge has not (yet) been closed as far as I know. The standard gauge has only run a couple of test freight trains from Mombasa to Nairobi so far, as I understand it. There is no question of transferring from metre onto standard gauge at Nairobi because the standard gauge does not yet run beyond Nairobi anyway and will not do so for some years. I'm not sure I really understand your point, except that the real money is in freight not passenger, which is taken for granted.

My point is that if there is to be a real overall profit from this railway - enough to make possible the servicing of the loan - a large part of it will have to come from cargoes and people west of Nairobi. So I hope that section of the line will be ready soon.
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Re: Will Kenya get value for money from its new railway?

Postby johnthefireman » Sun Jun 18, 2017 11:42 pm

george matthews wrote:My point is that if there is to be a real overall profit from this railway - enough to make possible the servicing of the loan - a large part of it will have to come from cargoes and people west of Nairobi. So I hope that section of the line will be ready soon.


Ah, I see, and of course I agree. But it depends what one means by "soon". The line to Naivasha is already being built and might be finished within the next year or two, but there's no great profit from that - I seem to remember that it is intended to be an inland port for transhipping, whether to lorries or the metre gauge. It has now been agreed that Kisumu is next. That should generate a fair bit of passenger traffic, but is unlikely to generate much freight revenue unless there is a corresponding renewal of shipping capacity on Lake Victoria, which nobody is talking about yet. At the moment there doesn't seem to be any agreement for the standard gauge extension to Uganda and beyond.
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Re: Will Kenya get value for money from its new railway?

Postby johnthefireman » Tue Jun 20, 2017 11:58 pm

From Chatham House:

Lessons from Kenya’s New, Chinese-funded Railway

Despite cost concerns, Kenya’s deal shows that infrastructure agreements with China can be made fairer for citizens of partner countries. Its neighbours should take note.
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