Launch of the First Commercial Freight Train on the standard line Mombasa – Nairobi

February 26th, 2018

Kenya Railways Corporation, a government-owned rail operator, launched its cargo service on the new Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) on January 6th, 2018 after five years of works. The new Standard Gauge Railway (SGR), also called the Madaraka Express, connects Mombasa Port, the largest port in East Africa, and Nairobi, the capital city of Kenya. This 472km-long line is the first phase of the SGR project that aims to connect Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and South Sudan and created around 30,000 jobs during construction.

​The Mombasa-Nairobi SGR, the heaviest infrastructure project in Kenya in the last five decades, aims to not only shorten passenger travel times from Mombasa to Nairobi but also to substantially improve the effectiveness of the country’s commercial freight service. Indeed, the designed freight carrying capacity of the railway is 22 million tons per annum. There is currently 1 daily train available with plans to increase to 8 in the future and each train has a haulage capacity of 54 double stack flat wagons carrying 4,000 tons (216 TEUS) with a designed speed of 80 km per hour.

As the leading freight forwarding player in Kenya, Bolloré Logistics provided the inaugural commercial consignment of 52 containers transported on the SGR on 15th January 2018. Since then, our teams in Kenya introduced the service to their clients and have transported over 360 containers to date, for export, local imports to Kenya and transit imports to Uganda.

Because of the speed and reliability of the SGR, the service is included as a mode of transport in our specialized commodities and exports such as Coffee, Tea, Beans, Hides and Skins among others. The Bolloré Logistics Team handles the entire process of booking and monitoring the cargo from Nairobi via the freight train, up to ship loading at Mombasa, ensuring that the cargo arrives on time and in full for shipment to various global destinations.

The SGR has also been beneficial for both local imports and transit imports, cutting down transit times from Mombasa to Nairobi by 24 hours. Clearing and documentation services can be handled at the main port in Mombasa or at the customs-controlled ICD Facility in Nairobi.

While the Freight Train operations are facing some teething challenges, a Joint Stakeholder Committee was formed to address these challenges, with representatives from Kenya Railways, port authority (KPA), customs regulator (KRA), shipping lines and freight forwarders, including Bolloré Logistics.

The Committee allows us to bring our logistics knowhow to contribute to better efficiency of the SGR freight service and is paving the road for further collaboration with the Kenya Railways Corporation and the other stakeholders.

Key Figures
  • 20%

    More fuel-efficient for the Boeing 787 and the Airbus A350

  • 70%

    of Urbanisation is expected by 2050

  • 27

    mega-cities are expected by 2050, with at least 10 million people, compared to 1...

  • +18,4%

    of growth for E-commerce retail market in Europe in 2015

  • 82%

    of goods are moved by road

  • 1 billion

    Population in Africa

  • 60%

    of Africa’s population will be urbanized by 2050

  • 7,5%

    of growth for Indian GDP in 2014

  • 4,9%

    of growth for African GDP in 2016

  • 6,1%

    of growth for East Asian GDP in 2015, the world’s fastest-growing region

  • 19 224 teus

    transported by the MSC Oscar, the largest container ship in the world

  • 396 m

    is the size of the MSC Oscar ship

  • 120 h

    is the Non-Stop Flight Record done by Solar Impulse

  • 4,5%

    of growth in 2015 for Global Airfreight demand