Published on 26 Apr 2024

Korean-made high-speed trains make debut in Tanzania as work on the US$10bn SGR project picks up speed

President Samia Suluhu Hassan has told the Tanzania Railways Corporation to commence service between Dar es Salaam and Dodoma by the end of July 2024

Photo credit: The Citizen Tanzania

Tanzania made history in February when it conducted the first test run on a short segment of its 2201km long US$10bn standard gauge railway (SGR) which will eventually connect its biggest city Dar es Salaam to the town of Mwanza on Lake Victoria. An electric train, which has been acquired mostly from South Koea, consisted of four carriages, took two hours and twenty minutes to complete a 300-km journey between Dar es Salaam and Morogoro – cutting by half the time taken otherwise by road. The test came after President Samia Suluhu Hassan delivered an ultimatum to the state-run Tanzania Railway Corporation to begin service between the two cities by the end of July 2024. It marks a significant milestone for the Republic as it attempts to modernise its outdated transport infrastructure. Once fully operational, it is hoped the new railway will reduce road congestion and decrease freight costs by 40%. The railway, constructed in several phases by contractors from Turkey and China, is at various stages of completion. There are plans to subsequently extend the SGR line to Rwanda, Burundi, and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). If it happens the time required to move a container from Dar es Salaam to Kindu in the DRC could potentially be cut from 30 days by truck to a maximum of 36 hours.

Photo credit: Johnragla

In 2021, Tanzania signed a $296m deal with Korea’s Hyundai Rotem to acquire 17 electric locomotives and 10 sets of electric multiple units, or EMUs, which are trains where each carriage is equipped with its own electric motors, enabling operation without a separate locomotive. Hyundai Rotem noted it was selected for the contract due to its experience supplying equipment to Egypt, Tunisia, and Nigeria. Additionally, Tanzania has ordered 59 passenger cars from another Korean manufacturer, Sung Shin Rolling Stock Technology.

Each EMU train set can accommodate 589 passengers and operates at speeds of up to 160 km/h. They are equipped with wifi, air conditioning systems, and CCTV security cameras. The SGR is expected to more than halve travel time compared to the old narrow gauge railway.

The World Economic Forum last year published a report that states the transportation and logistics sector has the potential to greatly benefit from the successful implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area. Predictions include a 28% increase in intra-African freight by 2030. This growth will require an additional 2 million trucks, 100,000 rail wagons, 250 aircraft, and over 100 vessels.


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China lands railway contract to link Tanzania to mineral-rich DRC’, NTU-SBF Centre for African Studies, 21 February 2023

Tanzania Railways Corp standard gauge locomotives and EMUs unveiled’, Railway Gazette International, 07 August 2023

The first trials of the Hyundai Rotem electric locomotive in Tanzania have been successfully conducted’, Railway Supply, 19 December 2023

Hyundai Rotem electric locos arrive in Tanzania’, Railway Technology, 10 January 2024

Tanzania: New electric trains, carriages to transform rail network’, ESI Africa, 18 January 2024

Tanzania’s SGR charges ahead with arrival of modern trains’, The Citizen, 03 April 2024

Tanzania receives electric SGR trains from South Korea’, The East African, 08 April 2024

Tanzania gets Hyundai Rotem’s electric trains’, ITWeb, 08 April 2024

Tanzania set for historic SGR train trial between Dar and Dodoma’, The Citizen, 20 April 2024

Prime Minister Hon. Kassim Majaliwa witnesses the first trials of the SGR train from Dar es Salaam- Dodoma’, Tanzania Railways Corporation, 22 April 2024


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