Diesel wagons to transport cargo as rail electrification intensifies

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The Sebeta-Djibouti railway is to commence transportation of cargo from the port city on diesel wagons, while electrification of the railway line is being conducted.
Sources at Ethiopian Railway Corporation (ERC) told Capital that the railway will commence operation in the near future. The electric railway connecting the two capital cities is almost finalized, pending electrification. The electrification work is being undertaken by Chinese companies and the Ethiopian Electric Power’s (EEP) task force.
According to the Ethiopian Shipping and Logistics and Services Enterprise (ESLSE), the enterprise is now in discussions with ERC to commence cargo fleets via diesel wagons. “We have plans to transport the cargo from Gueleleh Negad, which will be the main railway station, located 7km on the out skirt of Djibouti town, to Melka Jebdu, on the outskirts of Dire Dawa, 500km east of Addis Ababa,” ESLSE officials told Capital.
Both the Ethiopian and Djiboutian customs offices have to work together on documentation of cargo to commence transportation, according to the logistics enterprise’s officials.
Concerns about insurance and border inspections are being looked at by the relevant government bodies before transportation from the port commences.
Construction of the rail line from Negad to Melka Jebdu has already been completed. The line can transport cargo on diesel-fueled wagons, according to sources from ERC. “We will not simply commence operations to transport cargo to the country, we first have to test the system,” the ESLSE officials explained.
Currently rail line construction from Negad to Doraleh Container Terminal (DTC) is being finalized. Until the line is operational, cargo will be transported to Negad using trucks, according to ESLSE sources.
Construction of a one kilometer railway is also underway to connect Mojo Dry Port to the main rail line.
China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) is constructing the line from Djibouti town to Meiso via Dewelle and Dire Dawa. Djibouti’s 92km railway, including the 12km that will link the Doraleh Multipurpose Port, Oil Terminal and Doraleh Container Terminal, is expected to be completed by October 2015 and operational in the beginning of 2016, if the electrification of the line goes as planned.
Demissew Zeleke (Eng), Project Manager of EEP, told Capital that building of the foundation and excavation has been fully completed. “We divided the project among four companies to ensure that it was finished in a short period of time,” the Project Manager explained.
He said that embedded electrification systems were imported to the country and the materials are already being transported to the port of Djibouti.
Xian Electric Company Limited is engaged in supplying sub-stations’ equipments, while two Chinese companies are engaged inthe construction of transmission lines on two different parts of the railway. Work on the 230kv transition line from Hurso to Adi Gala, by the Shanghai Electric Group is progressing on turnkey bases. Also undertaking the 230kv transmission line work from Adi Gala to the border of Djibouti on a turnkey contract is Jiangsu Etern Company Limited.
Demissew said that Sinohydro, involved in the Tekeze Hydro Electric project, supplies130kv lines, implemented by EEP.
EEP’s task force is currently building eight sub-stations across the railway. 17 traction stations are being constructed at 40km intervals in Ethiopia and another three are under construction in Djibouti.
The project will be finalized by the end of October, according to Demissew.
He said that the electrification work on the Djibouti by Shanghai Electric Group is underway, parallel to the Ethiopian project.
The Sebta-Adama-Mieso railway being constructed by China Railway Group (CREC) is valued at USD 1.841 billion. China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) is the other Chinese company constructing the 339km Mieso-Dire Dawa-Dewelle railway project for USD 1.12 billion. The company is also undertaking the USD 525 million railway project in Djibouti that connects Ethiopia to the Djiboutian port.
Recently, some railway wagons have been assembled in Ethiopia. Norinco, an international company won the contract to build the railway wagons and has subcontracted the Metals and Engineering Corporation to build 530 wagons.
The Sebeta-Meiso-Dewele-Durale rail,under-construction, will utilize 1100 railway wagons to transport cargo.
The railway is expected to reduce transportation time between the capitals to less than 10 hours; from the two days it currently takes using heavy goods vehicles across a congested mountainous road.
The new line is a resurrection of the old one, built in 1917 by the Franco-Ethiopian Railway Company.