Rift Valley Railways (RVR), the operator of the Kenya-Uganda railway, has launched a KES 800 million (more than USD 9.3 million) technology upgrade that includes global positioning system (GPS)-based software that centrally controls the movement of trains and cargo along the railway track.
The automated train warrant (ATW) software allows online visualization from an operations control center in Nairobi of the precise location of trains along the railway. It will replace manual management of crossovers at railway stations with satellite-enabled self-switching movement of trains.
“The introduction of satellite navigation technology to this core component of our operations means we will eliminate a lot of waiting time at stations by giving priority track access to trains carrying cargo and also allow us to handle larger fleets,” said Darlan De David, RVR group CEO.
RVR is a platform company of Citadel Capital, the leading private equity firm in Africa and the Middle East with investments of US$ 9.5 billion in five core industries, including energy, transportation, agrifoods, mining and cement.
Communication with the trains will be through on-board computers installed in all locomotives, which have remote speed-control features and a mechanism to data on the condition of engines and the track back to the control center.
Commenting on the new technology, Hernani Sozzi Jr., a veteran rail and road management software developer with large Brazilian rail operator America Latina Logistica, said “This is an integrated logistics and operations solution used in modern railway management system that gives real time information on multiple dimensions of the railway line and rolling stock”.
Sozzi, who was in Kenya to train RVR software developers and traffic controllers on the new system, said this integrated technology platform is currently being used to manage railway operations in Brazil, Argentina and South Africa. He said Japan uses the same technology to manage operations and billings for mass commuter rail.
A key component of the technology is the Translogic integrated logistics management platform, which provides a detailed manifest of the position and contents of all cargo-carrying wagons.
“This platform enables us to tell customers exactly where their cargo is along the 2,352km railway track we manage,” De David noted. “This innovation gives RVR the ability to effectively manage asset quality, reliably schedule maintenance and help ensure consistently high standards of rail transportation to smooth trade in East Africa.”