Tanzania’s electric train can reach speeds of 160km/h, a test run on its newly-built standard gauge railway (SGR) between Dar es Salaam and Morogoro showed.
The tests are the first for the ambitious project that Tanzania has been pushing since April 2017.
The 300km Dar-Morogoro line is the first phase of the SGR project, which is expected to run up to Mwanza on the shores of Lake Victoria and Kigoma on the northeastern shores of Lake Tanganyika in five phases. There are plans to add connections to Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo as part of the East African Railway Master Plan.
Once commissioned for service, the SGR trains, running at an average speed of 160km per hour, will cut the time between Dar and Morogoro to about two hours from the current four-hour journey by buses and five hours by train on the old metre gauge railway.
On Sunday, Tanzania’s government spokesperson shared a short clip on social media of the electric train during its test run. Two electric locomotive engines were purchased by Turkish construction company Yapı Merkezi for use in testing on the line. The assessments, which began in May, are expected to be completed this month.
Tanzania targets to replace the rather aged and less efficient meter-gauge railway system established during the colonial East African Railways.
However, delays in completion of the Julius Nyerere Dam that is expected to produce electricity to power the locomotive engines on the SGR will derail its commissioning.
According to officials, the construction schedule of the dam was re-done and the completion date pushed to 2024.
Railway lines will be complemented with overhead powerlines to supply electricity to the trains and wagons. Phase two of the SGR project runs from Morogoro to Makutupora, covering 422 kilometres. The line is being extended to Tabora, 294km away in phase three.
The fourth phase will link Tabora to Isaka, a 130km line, where it will branch to Mwanza and Kigoma.
Once complete, it is hoped that the new railway will reduce road congestion and decrease freight costs by 40 percent.