The Ethio-Djibouti Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) is undergoing its final trial before commencing services soon; the newly named Ethio-Djibouti SGR Transport S.C has revealed.
According to Dereje Tefera, the Communications Director with Ethiopian Railways Corporation, the completion and inauguration of the project does not mean it will commence services as there are final preparations that need to be done.
The final preparation work involves trial and administrative works. Dereje said that the final trail of the Ethio-Djibouti Railway involved high speed and heavy load tests for both the freight and passenger locomotives, which have a designed speed of 80 and 120km per hour respectively. Once operational, the freight trains can at a time move up to 3500 tons, while the passenger locomotives can move up to 2800 commuters. “Any train railway project is supposed to pass through these tests and hoops before becoming fully operational,” he added.
Mr Dereje further pointed out that, the final run should be done by an independent transport regulatory body, in this case by a Chinese company, and issue a certificate to green light full operations, although it is possible to provide full service in the current state. “We have been transporting wheat so far, and we are thinking about giving a free passenger service during the trial period, until we become certified and start operations,” he indicated.
In terms of the administrative issues, the final preparation works consisted of assigning the share and role between the two countries in running the company/operation. It was agreed that Ethiopia will have 75% share, while Djibouti will have 25%, with three members of the four man board represented by Ethiopia. Ethiopia’s Transport Minister Ahmed Shide is assigned to chair the Board.
Once fully operational, the first SG electrified railroad on the continent is expected to provide a link to the country’s industrial parks and dry ports through a cost effective, reliable transport.