• New rail line to connect Kenya and Sudan?

  • Discussion about railroad topics everywhere outside of North America.
Discussion about railroad topics everywhere outside of North America.

Moderators: Komachi, David Benton

  by george matthews
 
http://steelmillsoftheworld.com/news/ne ... ?slno=1344

This is an interesting idea. I can see what's in it for the companies that want to build it but not what would be the gain for those who operate it.

The plan is sponsored by the leader of southern Sudan - John Garang - who has spent much of his life fighting the Arab government based in Khartum. His plan is to link South Sudan, which now has some autonomy, with East Africa, and so he needs a transport outlet to the south. But is there the traffic to make it pay? Most railways in Africa have an identifiable large industrial user at one end, and a port at the other. In Uganda the Kasese line had a copper mine. When that mine closed so did the railway. I suspect that road traffic between Kenya and Sudan is not all that great. However, as the oil industry grows in Sudan maybe there will be some scope for supplies to the drillers, and perhaps even some oil exports.

Another question of course is gauge. Kenya has metre gauge; the rest of the Sudan uses Cape gauge. Will this proposed line link up with the Sudan line at Wau? But that line is so decrepit that it can scarcely handle one train a week, and that needs a full military protection team. If the line from Kenya is built where will the terminal be?

These are interesting questions. Such a line was proposed thirty years ago, and I felt the same objections to its viability were present then, although of course the oil industry is very recent (the main factor in the trouble in Darfur).

Later:

The gauge question is also being addressed.
http://www.sudantribune.com/article.php ... ticle=3832

>>The discussions will also address the issue of over-hauling of Kenya's century-old metre gauge rail network to the much more practical standard gauge.<<

I wonder if this is wise? Cape gauge conversion in East Africa would connect the southern African systems to the existing Sudanese system. Only when you get to Egypt is there a Standard gauge system.

However, this would be a huge undertaking involving at least the Kenya lines to Dar es Salaam to link with the Tazara line.

I haven't yet seen a map of the connection to Sudan. One possibility would be to go from Juba to the northern Uganda line (believed to be inactive at present). Another would be to extend the Nanyuki branch in Kenya northwards. In both these cases the simplest construction would to build a metre gauge line as neither would be likely to join the existing Sudanese system. But if there is heavy freight to be carried both lines would need extensive reconstruction.

More research shows that this indeed a huge visionary project, involving the inactive lines in Uganda (Pakwach and Kasese) and the probably inactive branch in Kenya to Rongai.

http://www.railwaygazette.com/2004/049-com1.asp

I suspect that building standard gauge lines is a fantasy too far. Building even a Cape gauge line sounds dubious without rebuilding all the lines in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. However, it is worth watching these projects to see how much, if anything, gets done.

Connecting Rwanda to Uganda seems quite feasible, opening a border that was made almost inpenetrable in colonial times.

  by george matthews
 
http://www.kbc.co.ke/story.asp?ID=25326
Kenya-Uganda-Sudan rail-line coming
BY: KBC Business
DATE: Wednesday, September 29, 2004
A railway link between Kenya-Uganda into southern Sudan will be a reality within the next five years.
The link expected to boost investment in the region, will cost 340 billion shillings.
Uganda and Kenya already agreed to jointly concession the railway line running from Mombasa to Jinja, with offshoots planned at Rongai and Gulu to link up Southern Sudan.
A German consortium, which won the bid for the Sudanese section of the railway, Tuesday met Kenyan government representatives to present the findings of the feasibility study of the railway line.
The southern Sudanese government representative expressed optimism that once the Southern Sudanese government is in place construction work could begin in earnest early next year.

  by David Benton
 
havent had time to read all the links , but who will pay for it ?hard to imagine the Sudanese govt coming up with the $$$ .Are the Germans arranging aid money to pay for it , or a loan of some sort ? .

  by george matthews
 
David Benton wrote:havent had time to read all the links , but who will pay for it ?hard to imagine the Sudanese govt coming up with the $$$ .Are the Germans arranging aid money to pay for it , or a loan of some sort ? .
Large changes are occurring in that region of Africa. Oil has been found in southern Sudan. How much there is still remains uncertain. The war seems to have come to an end, at least in the south, and there is now an autonomous southern government, able to do economic planning.

The East African system was confined to the British ruled area. Now there are plans to extend it westwards into Congo. The new government in southern Sudan wishes to make connections to the south to reduce their dependence on the Arab north. There are conferences going on proposing new links. My feeling is that at least one of these links will actually be built, from Nanyuki northwards. Possibly the Uganda system might be extended to Juba. Any more? I don't see it as I can't see what they would carry. Oil equipment is a possible cargo. The SPLA (Sudan People's Liberation Army - Movement) wants access to Mombasa. The Kenya government wants more trade.

So far I haven't found any reference to gauge. The system outlined above would surely be metre gauge. I don't think the SPLA have any wish to make connection to the Cape gauge main Sudanese system (still in a very decrepit state, even reviving its steam locos) easy. Nor would Kenya or Uganda wish to convert to Cape gauge (unless huge amounts of money are available). The revival of the dormant Uganda lines to Kasese and Pakwach is an interesting aspect of these plans. This would extend metre gauge lines into Rwanda, Burundi and Congo. But the Congo is mainly a Cape gauge country.

This speech is or particular interest, and contains some interesting maps.

http://www.transport.gov.za/comm-centre ... ECHDEL.pdf

A useful comment in

http://www.railwaygazette.com/2004/049-com1.asp

  by george matthews
 
David Benton wrote:haven't had time to read all the links , but who will pay for it ?hard to imagine the Sudanese govt coming up with the $$$ .Are the Germans arranging aid money to pay for it , or a loan of some sort ? .
Here's another press comment. Curiously it is illustrated by a picture of the third rail lines at the entrance to Waterloo in London.

Also there is a daft mention of "high speed". These new lines will certainly not be high speed. Their virtue will be the ability to move large amounts of freight. Journalist's laziness, I suppose.

http://www.sudantribune.com/article.php ... ticle=5780
Last edited by george matthews on Tue Oct 12, 2004 8:20 am, edited 1 time in total.

  by george matthews
 
More and more this story looks like fantasy.

In this report

http://allafrica.com/stories/200410111185.html
it is stated that the line will be electrified, standard gauge and "high speed". I am sure there is not the demand for such a line. At either end the connections are with metre gauge and Cape gauge respectively. The nearest standard gauge line is in Egypt over 1000 miles away.

  by David Benton
 
Doesent quite fit with the news images of famine etc in Sudan does it .
One thing that worries me , if south Sudan has all the minerals etc , whats going to pay for the existing railways in North sudan to be kept running .

  by Sir Ray
 
george matthews wrote:More and more this story looks like fantasy.

In this report

http://allafrica.com/stories/200410111185.html
it is stated that the line will be electrified, standard gauge and "high speed". I am sure there is not the demand for such a line. At either end the connections are with metre gauge and Cape gauge respectively. The nearest standard gauge line is in Egypt over 1000 miles away.
It's merely the first phase in the 'Capetown to Cairo' TGV. 300km/hr or bust...

  by David Benton
 
hmmm, how do you keep the cages of chickens on the roof at 300 km/h ?

  by george matthews
 
David Benton wrote:Doesent quite fit with the news images of famine etc in Sudan does it .
One thing that worries me , if south Sudan has all the minerals etc , whats going to pay for the existing railways in North sudan to be kept running .
The famine is entirely political caused by the Arab government trying to eliminate the non-Arabs (some of whom they use as slaves). The new autonomous region in the south is trying to get free of the Arabs. I hope some crooked contractor is not selling them an unsuitable railway. A metre gauge line would be suitable, run for the time being on diesel. There simply isn't an electric power network able to power an electrified line in the area between Kenya and Sudan - sparsely inhabited desert.
The Uganda lines could be electrified with the power from the Nile dams. Perhaps the line from Gulu to Juba could be also, though I don't see it as likely.

I wonder what this German company is up to? What is their track record in building third world rail lines? Putting "Thormhlen Schweibchnik" into google produces no references.

It is beginning to look a bit sinister to me.

  by David Benton
 
yup , looks that way , I'm sure the chinese would build them a reaonable line at a fraction of the cost .

  by george matthews
 
""Thormahlen SchweiBtechnik""

This seems to be the correct name of the company.

They do have a reputation.

But I still think it would be a mistake to build a "high speed" railway, and electrified.

  by george matthews
 
Some useful details about the Uganda section of the proposed new line. This definitely assumes an extension of the Metre gauge lines.

http://www.myuganda.co.ug/news/?more=47

  by george matthews
 
More
http://www.sudan.net/news/posted/10251.html

Kenya is now talking about upgrading the main line to standard gauge. I am well aware of this line and think this would prove expensive as there are many tight curves which would need to be by-passed, often in difficult country.

There is a complete spiral loop on the Mombasa line.

>>"I expect no Wild West scenario here. It is a good think that the concessioning is being done jointly, so we will be dealing with just one entity."
He believes that with a successful PPP (public private partnerships) model, he can do his bit to help banish the buccaneer image that stuck to the foreign investors who ventured into Africa following the the 19th Century Berlin Conference and the wanton plunder that was christened the Scramble for Africa.
The THI consortium, he stresses, is here to invest in Africa and not take out Africa's minerals, and points to the 800,000 euros (Sh82.3 million) the firm has already sank in feasibility studies so far, as evidence of its seriousness.
One thing is for sure. Mr Thormahlen is smitten with Africa. He will be back in Nairobi soon. Already his crusades in East Africa for an integrated railway network has earned him invitations to Rwanda and Ethiopia who are keen on savouring his brand of German engineering.<<

I hope he's not taking people for a ride.