RVR to train 175 train drivers in the next 12 months

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$1.8m train simulator acquired to improve train driver handling

40 new drivers to be recruited to handle added locomotives

Regional rail operator, Rift Valley Railways, has begun training its team of 135 drivers ona$1.8 milliontrain simulator that will improve driver skill and performance, while improving train operating efficiency.

The technology allowsthe inputting of data gathered from different sections of the railway line to simulate a range of operating parameters and hasaactual sizedriver’s cabin with real-life sound cues. The operator navigates the train through a large video display of the track while an on-board computer and monitors assist the driver to operate the train.

The simulator is manufactured by the New York Air Brake Corporation, a leading producer of high-technology train control systems for the railroad industry worldwide.

Speaking during the launch RVR’s senior systems specialist, KahigaWanderisaid: “A topography team mapped our entire mainline track from Mombasa to Kampalawhich meansdriverscanhave a true-life experience of driving on the railway before getting into a train. This will optimise train operating conditions, further reducing the number of incidents, cut transit time and reduce fuel consumption which increases our capacity to move more cargo for customers”.

RVR will double its existing locomotives capacity by the end of June next year. Twenty of these are American built locomotives with General Electric engines acquired at a cost of sh2.2 billion.

“We have already deployed three of the 20 US-made locomotiveswe expect to receive by April next year. We are now looking to enlist 40 new train drivers and develop their skills with this equipment in readiness for this extra locomotive capacity,” Andrade added.

JaafarOkeng’oan RVR train driver said: “The simulator gives you a real experience of the many controls in the train cabin and allows you to test tricky sections along the railway track in advance.This makes it easier and faster to get it right when you’re actually driving the train.” 

In July, RVR commissioned two high capacity railway track maintenance machines that automate and hasten track restoration. The Ballast Tamper and Ballast Profiler machines arrange displaced ballast and restore the track to the technically required geometric alignment at a speed of one kilometer per hour compared to only 40 meters per hour using manual processes.

The rail operator rehabilitated 73 kilometres of railway track between Mombasa and Nairobi and installed of GPS-based train operating technology on all trains. This helped cut cargo transit times between the two cities by six hours. RVR has also rebuilt nine crumbling culverts near Jinjaallowing the direct movement of heavy trains to Uganda.

The rail operator has also vastly expanded its fleet of wagons through on-going overhaul and rehabilitation programmes at its Nairobi and Kampala workshops. 

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