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Chinese-built modern railway in Kenya marks 1,500 days of safe operation

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NAIROBI, July 9 (Xinhua) — The Chinese-built Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) linking Kenya’s port city Mombasa to the capital Nairobi is celebrating 1,500 days of safe operation as it seeks to boost the safety of passengers and cargo along the 480 km corridor.

A statement from the SGR operator released in Nairobi on Friday said the modern train service has been at the forefront of Kenya’s socio-economic transformation in the last four years since its operationalization.

“SGR’s transportation indicators and its increasingly important social significance have also earned the approval of freight owners and passengers,” said Africa Star Railway Operation Company Limited (AfriStar) that operates SGR.

The operator said 1,500 days marked a milestone in safe, efficient and quality operation of both the SGR passenger and cargo service adding that Kenyan, Chinese and regional governments have hailed the modern train service.

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According to AfriStar, the Mombasa-Nairobi SGR is also boosting Kenya’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic by ensuring that delivery of critical supplies is not interrupted.

Over the last 1,500 days of operations, the SGR has not experienced any major safety lapse. It has reduced travel time between Kenya’s capital and the country’s second largest city by half.

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A total of 5,415,000 passengers have been ferried between Nairobi and Mombasa in the last 1,500 days since the SGR commenced operations and the operator estimates 1.8 million commuters could use the service this year.

Currently, there are six passenger trains operating along the Mombasa-Nairobi route daily while 16 freight trains have been transporting bulk cargo in a seamless and safe manner on a daily basis.

“So far in 2021, 221,000 TEUs have been transported, an increase of 26.6 percent compared with the highest freight volume in previous records,” said the operator, adding that trains exclusively earmarked for grain and double-stack trains are also regularly operated along the Mombasa-Nairobi corridor.

The operator said enhancing safety has been at the heart of SGR’s corporate culture while staff members have been trained to enable them to acquire skills required to ensure risk to passenger and cargo is mitigated to the lowest level possible.

“Through case education on railway accidents in China and other countries, staff safety awareness and quality are greatly enhanced,” said the operator.

According to AfriStar, the staff have been trained to boost safety of equipment and enforce environmental protection measures along the SGR corridor that include pristine wildlife sanctuaries.

The operator has developed guidelines to boost safety of SGR operations and in 2020 alone spent 2.8 million US dollars to improve public security through acquisition of cutting edge technology and hiring of personnel.

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The Mombasa-Nairobi SGR, which replaces the meter gauge railway that was constructed more than 100 years ago during the British colonial rule, has been an important fruit that came out of the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative and the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation summit held in Johannesburg, South Africa, in late 2015.

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