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Mind the gap: The Gautrain turns 10



The engineering marvel not only eased crushing traffic, but it also helped Johannesburg to partially fulfil its brand mandate to be a “world-class African city”.

The Gautrain rapid rail system is Johannesburg’s metro, its subway, its underground — though, like New York and London, much of the system is above ground or even elevated, save for the 15 kilometres between the Marlboro portal and Park Station. It is to Johannesburg what BART is to San Francisco and MARTA is to Atlanta. And, unlike most other urban centres (except for maybe San Francisco), what is particularly smart about the Gautrain is that it does not just serve Johannesburg.

It extends into Ekurhuleni (for all intents and purposes part of Johannesburg, but separated for administrative purposes, as Greater Johannesburg would be too large to administer as a single city).

Of course it also serves Pretoria, hence its naming as the train of Gauteng. This was a particular stroke of genius, to ease the traffic burden on the N1 between the two cities.

Arguably, Gautrain is unremarkable when compared to other systems around the world. It’s not the longest — that honour would belong to Shanghai, which has been on a building binge of note to match the growth of the Chinese economy. It’s not the oldest — that honour would belong to London, which opened its underground in 1890, a mere four years after Johannesburg was founded (incidentally, London’s system housed residents underground as bomb shelters during the Blitz in World War 2).

It’s not the busiest — that honour would belong to Tokyo, where professional “pushers” shove people onto the train to pack ‘em in, before the doors close. It’s not the most opulent — that honour would go to Moscow, where chandeliers and artwork hang in the train stations. And it’s not the most famous — that honour undoubtedly goes to New York, whose subway system has had the starring role in many a movie set in the city.

But there can be no doubt that Gautrain is world class. It’s clean, neat and tidy, a product of good planning and the Singapore-esque draconian application of the rules — no eating or drinking, no gum, no loud noise, no helmets, no bikes unless they are in bags, no rowdy behaviour, no vagrants and hawkers — the list goes on.

For this reason, it was accused of being elitist, but the initial vision of an integrated transport system for all who can afford it, has become a reality, as attested to by its 30 million-plus annual users.

 

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Kenya SGR cargo revenue declines by Sh154m in five months

Revenue generated from transportation of cargo on the standard gauge railway (SGR) dropped 3.3 percent, or Sh154 million, in the first five months of the year, official statistics show, amid continued pressure by the State on importers to use the line to move goods from Mombasa.

Freight services, which informed the decision to build the modern railway from Mombasa to Suswa near Naivasha, earned the country Sh4.51 billion in the January-May 2020 period compared with Sh4.66 billion a year earlier, data by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) indicate.

Cargo services were not affected when President Uhuru Kenyatta ordered cessation of movement into and out of Mombasa and Nairobi early April. Passenger services were, however, suspended.

The KNBS data shows China Communications Construction Company, the SGR operator, sold 320,730 tickets in January-March 2020 period before the “Madaraka Express” (passenger) services were temporarily paused early April.

Earnings from passenger services in the first quarter of the year amounted to Sh350.33 million, a drop of 17.84 percent compared with the year before when 355,554 seats were booked.

The passenger services only resumed on Monday, albeit on half capacity as part of measures to stem the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

The KNBS data shows nearly 1.6 million tonnes of cargo were ferried from Mombasa to Nairobi on the SGR line between January and May 2020, a drop of 5.05 percent compared with more than 1.68 million tonnes a year earlier.

The SGR line has struggled to attract adequate cargo volumes with investors balking at the tariffs to transport goods from the Port of Mombasa to the inland container depots (ICDs) in Nairobi and Suswa near Naivasha.

 

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This is a remarkable upgrade from the current trains that run between rural governorates, most people would be horrified if they saw the current wagons. They're basically just metal boxes.

Alexandria port receives 22 train vehicles as part of largest deal in Egypt’s history

The Alexandria port on Wednesday received 22 train vehicles as part of a 1.16 billion euro deal signed between the Egyptian National Railways (ENR) and the Hungarian-Russian Transmashholding company, the largest deal in the ENR’s history, Minister of Transport Kamel al-Wazir announced.

The deal aims to manufacture and import up to 1,300 vehicles, Wazir added, and said a second batch is due for the first week of July and includes train vehicles to be imported from Saint Petersburg to Alexandria port.

The remaining vehicles, at a rate of 35 per batch, will be imported according to a specified schedule.

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The largest deal in the ENR’s history, it represents a qualitative shift in the services provided to passengers in Egypt.

The deal includes 500 third-class units with forced ventilation, 500 third-class units with air-conditioning, 180 second-class units with air-conditioning, 30 second-class units with air-conditioning and buffets, and 90 first-class units with air-conditioning.

Egypt’s government aims to overhaul railway facilities though the periodic updating of infrastructure and coaches, focusing on safety and aiming to utilize unconventional methods to provide further resources to implement developmental plans.







IMAGE SOURCE: Egyptian Ministry of Transportation
 

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Test runs for the itakpe-Warri rail line have started, construction has started to extend it to Abuja and to Warri port. The rails main purpose is to ferry iron ore from itakpe, in Kogi to ajaokuta a steel plant where it is then taking to Warri port for export, or to Abuja and Kano to be manufactured.
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Transnet signs deal to supply 300 freight rail wagons to Mozambican rail operator

State-owned rail engineering company Transnet Engineering (TE) and Mozambican State-owned railway operator Caminhos De Ferros De Mocambique (CFM) have signed a rolling stock supply agreement valued at more than R400-million.

Under the terms of the agreement, TE will supply 300 freight wagons to CFM.

The wagons will be manufactured at the TE Bloemfontein centre, creating local supply opportunities.

The deal is part of efforts to strengthen regional integration and the revitalisation of the Mozambique railway industry.

At the core of the agreement is the manufacture, supply and delivery of 300 high-sided Gondola-type freight wagons to CFM.

This transaction follows an earlier successful delivery by TE of over 300 locally manufactured freight wagons to CFM in December 2019.

TE says this repeat purchase by CFM further strengthens the business relationship between the two entities and is a demonstration of CFM's confidence in TE’s manufacturing capabilities as an independent original-equipment manufacturer.

 

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A new railway station that shall be a hub for Cairenes travelling to Upper Egypt has started construction.

Construction of Bashteel Railway Station in Giza, Egypt starts



The construction works on the proposed Bashteel Railway Station in Giza, Egypt, has begun. This is according to Hassan Allam Holding, local engineering, construction, and Infrastructure Company. The latter announced that it is undertaken the design and construction work for the station in question, in partnership with the Egyptian Ministry of Transport and the states’ Railways Authority.

The project sits on an approximately 31,000 square meters piece of land between the Ramses and Giza railway stations and in close proximity to three main corridors namely the Ahmed Orabi Corridor, Sudan Street Corridor, and the Zomor Corridor.

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Due to its strategic location, between two railway stations and near three main streets, the future Bashteel Railway Station is expected to serve as a gateway to Upper Egypt, reducing pressure on central train stations in terms of transportation, services, and maintenance, as well as help reduce traffic congestion inside the capital’s streets.
Source link: Construction of Bashteel Railway Station in Giza, Egypt starts
 

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Meanwhile in Kenya, a new rail project is underway to revamp the old metre-gauge railway from the Naivasha Inland Container Depot (Naivasha ICD) to the Ugandan border at Malaba. Already, several kilometers of new track has been laid down.

The President of Kenya inspects the Naivasha-Malaba meter rail project

On August 29, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta inspected the Naivasha-Malaba meter rail project. Philip Mainga, head of the Kenya Railways, accompanied the inspection.

Kenyatta listened to the report on the project overview, construction progress and seamless connection with the standard railroad from the representatives of the Kenya Railway Bureau and the project leader. Kenyatta fully affirmed the construction progress and site management of the project, and highly praised the outstanding achievements of China Communications Construction [Company] and China Road and Bridge [Corporation] in project construction organization and construction quality. He said that the construction of the project is of great significance to promoting the economic development of Kenya and East Africa and reducing logistics costs. He hopes that all parties will continue to work hard to complete the project construction tasks with high quality and efficiency.

The Naivasha-Malaba meter rail project starts at the Naivasha inland container yard and ends at the Kenyan border city of Malaba. The main engineering content of the project includes new construction of 24 kilometers of railways and renovation of 465 kilometers of existing railways. After the completion of the project, it will realize the seamless connection of the Mombasa-Nairobi Railway, Nei-Ma Railway and the existing railways, give full play to the comprehensive benefits of road-port combined transportation, restore the economic vitality along the existing railways, and further open up international freight transportation between Kenya and other East African countries Channel to enhance Kenya’s regional influence.





Link: 肯尼亚总统视察纳瓦沙至马拉巴米轨铁路项目
 

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SGR reveals Sh21bn loss as China firm debt rises


Taxpayers face a huge bill sustaining services on the standard gauge railway (SGR) after it posted a combined operating loss of Sh21.68 billion in the three years to May.

A report to Parliament by the Transport ministry revealed that the China-built railway netted Sh25.03 billion in revenue over the period against operational costs totalling Sh46.71 billion — a gap that taxpayers have to plug.

The operation loss has already caused the Kenya Railways Company (KRC) to default on an estimated Sh40 billion payout to China’s Africa Star Railway Operation Company, which runs both passenger and cargo services on the SGR.

The below-target performance was attributed to reduced limited storage capacity at the Embakasi Inland Container Depot (ICD), minimum use of the Nairobi Freight Terminal that handles cargo not stored in containers and the rail charges.

The SGR has struggled to attract adequate cargo volumes, with investors balking at the tariffs for transporting goods from the Port of Mombasa to the Inland Container Depot (ICD) in Nairobi.

Kenya borrowed Sh324 billion for the project from the Exim Bank of China in May 2014 and started paying the loan last year after expiry of the five-year grace period.

Parliament in June warned that Africa Star may pull out of operating the SGR cargo and passenger trains if the State did not settle outstanding debt.

The Chinese company manages the ticketing system, landing and offloading of cargo and collection of passenger fares, including non-cash revenues like M-Pesa payments.



Chinese SGR operator faces 50 percent pay cut


Parliament wants the standard gauge railway (SGR) operating costs cut by half and the terms of the loan taken to finance its construction renegotiated to ease pressure on taxpayers.

The Transport committee of the National Assembly said the current huge operating losses on the SGR, coupled with the Chinese debt repayment obligations, warranted an urgent review to protect taxpayers already strained by the economic fallout due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The committee recommends that renegotiation on the current Operating Agreement by planning to reduce the operation costs by at least 50 percent be initiated by the government,” the committee said in a report following an inquiry into the use of the SGR.

“The government should initiate the process of renegotiating the terms of the SGR with the lender due to the prevailing economic distress occasioned by the effects of Covid-19, the global pandemic that has affected the world’s economic growth.”

Taxpayers spend an average of Sh1 billion per month on the operations of the Chinese-built Mombasa-Nairobi railway.

But the cost could rise up to Sh1.8 billion due to variables such as the price of lubricants and fuel, loading and unloading fees, maintenance charge and various other management fees.

Transport ministry data shows that revenue collection by China’s Africa Star Railway Operation Company, which runs both passenger and cargo services on the SGR, has trailed expenditure—exposing taxpayers to a huge bill for sustaining operations.

 

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The horror SGR performance in line with the revenue expectations outlined in any budget report since 2013.

Ratio revenue / operating costs

2017 (June-December no freight) 13.1% (Ksh 970 million in revenue vs Ksh 7.1 billion in cost)
2018 (50% discount on freight) 39.8% (Ksh 5.6 billion / Ksh 14.5 billion)
2019 (discount extended to March) 75.5% (Ksh 13.58 billion / Ksh 17.58 billion)
2020 (January-May/Covid impact Feb-April) 66.9% (Ksh 4.89 billion / Ksh 7.3 billion)

Again SGR transports containers mainly something MGR before it had no real role in (MGR mainly did service warehouse, fuel depot and factories that had sidings with bulk and general cargo). With the construction of the GBHL grain terminal in Nairobi as well as the corresponding under construction loading facility in Kilindi harbor there will be a gradual shift towards more bulk movement on SGR. In order to achieve this new warehouse and loading facilities in conjungtion with the private sector has to be set up put this takes time. Land acquisitions, modality negotiations, etc all take up a lot of time but the EIAs for some facilities to be set up in Athi River has been published recently. SGR currently transports more tonnage just with containers between Nairobi and Mombasa than MGR in its heyday on the whole network until Kampala including all the branch lines. Containers make up only 8 million tonnes (of which 4 million tonnes are transported with SGR) out of the 35 million tonnes Mombasa cargo pie so bulk freight will have a significant impact.
 

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Train express regional update

Sertem Group a Senegalese construction group is one of three Senegalese companies involved in the project. It was responsible for constructing 8 out of the 13 stations, all auxiliary facility buildings like public restrooms and buildings for technical infrastructure, pedestrian bridges and bus stops for each stations. Their work looks pretty decent












President Macky Sall returned from his last visit to Macron with a funding commitment for phase 2 (Diamniadio to Blaise-Diagne international airport (AIBD) -18 km). Phase 1 (36 km from Dakar to Diamniadio) delayed by compensation problems is 90% complete and is set to open in 2021.
Train express régional (TER): La deuxième phase bénéficiera une fois de plus du soutien financier de la France - Allo Dakar

some drone footage of Diamniadio station
 

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Makes me wonder if North African countries ever had a period in their railway history when things went south...or its a SSA thing (excluding Botswana and Namibia perhaps).
 
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