Five passenger trains are scheduled to arrive in Kenya in February ahead of the launch of the Standard Gauge Railway in June 2017.

Also arriving with the locomotives will be forty passenger coaches with each coach having a capacity of 118 passengers for the economy class, 44 in the business class and 72 passengers in the first-class.

Kenya Railways projects SGR will carry up to 1 million passengers per year, with two pairs of trains running per day for the first four years.

The number of trips from the fourth year of operation will increase to three pairs of trains per day, giving a total of 1,500,000 passengers per year.

The trains will cut transit time between Nairobi and Mombasa to four and a half hours from 10 hours with top speeds of 158 kilometres per hour.

Kenya Railways Managing Director Atanas Maina says the diesel-powered passenger locomotives are customised for the East African terrain and will have food service areas, Wi-Fi, air-conditioning among other modern features.

“Kenya will become the first country in Africa to receive the modern hybrid long- distance passenger. The ultra-modern 6,000-litre diesel-powered locomotives have low-weight and optimised aerodynamic design will reduce fuel consumption substantially,” said KR in a statement.

The locomotives and rolling stock of the SGR project have been manufactured by CRRC Qishuyan Corporation Limited, which is the largest locomotive manufacturer in the world.

“These passenger locos will usher Kenya into in a new era, it is the backbone of our future long-distance transport system, linking up more and more, towns, cities and countries,” said Maina, adding the line will significantly cut journey times between Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda.

SGR will also run freight trains with 54 double stack flat wagons, carrying 216 TEUs (containers) per trip and a trailing load of 4,000 tonnes on each train

At present, the SGR Phase One of the project is in the completion stage of the ancillary works, which include slope protection and drainage systems along sections of the line and fencing of the key facilities in the stations.

The signaling, communication and electric works have been completed with the line testing exercise expected to commence in March, in preparation for official launch on June 1, 2017.