NRE rebuilding locomotives for African railway

Written by William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief
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Africa’s Rift Valley Railways (RVR) has taken delivery of its first batch of NRE (National Railway Equipment) rebuilt and re-engineered B23-7 diesel locomotives and concluded a $20 million financing deal for the fleet of 20 units. NRE is upgrading the locomotives to C23-7s and equipping them with its NForce control technology.

The concessionaire of the 1,736-mile Kenya-Uganda railway signed the financing with Standard Bank of South Africa and CFC Stanbic Bank, with Standard Bank covering 80% of the total cost of the order.

The first three locomotives arrived at the port of Mombasa in early September, and were officially unveiled on Sept. 18 by Kenyan Transport Cabinet Secretary Michael Kamau. The remaining 17 units are due to be delivered to Kenya by next May.

“When combined with the locomotives that are being rehabilitated in the rail operator’s Nairobi workshop, the trains will double RVR’s main line locomotive fleet, substantially increasing its freight haulage capacity in Kenya and Uganda,” said Qalaa Holdings, RVR’s majority shareholder.

RVR CEO Carlos Andrade added: “Insufficient locomotive power is the single-biggest obstacle preventing a step change in the volumes we transport. This new financing not only alleviates the bottleneck but is also a vote of confidence by a major international lender in our operations.”

Qalaa Holdings, which until recently was known as Citadel Capital, now holds an 85% stake in RVR after acquiring a 34% additional stake from Nairobi-listed infrastructure company Transcentury. The remaining 15% is held by Bomi Holdings.

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