Engineers at the Kenya Railways Corporation have hinted at using the double-heading technique to operate the freight wagons on the standard gauge railway.

Double-heading entails using two locomotives at the front of a train, each being operated individually by its own crew.

Engineer Jesse Gatukui says the technique is ideal as it gives the train additional power, which a single locomotive cannot haul due to terrain or excessive weight. This method also saves on transportation time. “One locomotive can haul between 20-25 wagons, but when you use two locomotives, you are able to haul up to 40 wagons at a go,” Gatukui said.

This mode of operation has been employed in the UK and other developed countries. In the UK, double-heading is used for all trains hauling nuclear waste flasks for security reasons. This is because the trains cannot be left behind if they stall, in the event one of the locomotives breaks down.

Double-heading guarantees a continuation of service because when one engine fails, the remaining one gets the train to its destination.

Speaking on Monday during the offloading of the first batch of 60 general cargo wagons at the Port of Mombasa, Gatukui said the technique will enable the SGR to transport more than 50 per cent cargo daily.

He said double-headed train will transport huge consignments of cargo at once, instead of having two different trains leaving at two different times.

“Instead of having one locomotive leaving at 7am with 20 wagons, and another train at 9am with a similar number of wagons, we can have a double-headed train leaving with 40 wagons at 7am,” Gatukui told the Star.

Last Monday, the KRC received the general cargo wagons imported from China, with the next consignment of 150 flat-wagons expected on Monday.