The EAC acknowledges the need to rationalise rail development within the region and to harmonise road and rail transport operations along the main corridors and has therefore, prepared an East African Railways Master Plan to guide the future development of the railway services in the region.
Railway transport is the second most important mode of transport after road and critical for long distance freight along the main transport corridors.
Tanzania has a total of 3,676km of railway lines operated by two railway systems, Tanzania Railways Corporation and Tanzania - Zambia Railways. Due to poor conditions of tracks and ageing rolling stock and locomotives, tonnage freight volumes and passenger numbers have continued to fall every year. However, efforts have been taken and the railway lines have been revamped, leading to an increase in the numbers of passengers and cargo.
The World Bank and the African Development Bank have committed funds for the development of the infrastructure. In order to alleviate the problems of the sub-sector, the Government has turned to public/private sector partnership while retaining public ownership of the infrastructure and regulation.
Kenya has a rail network of 2,778km of lines. The mainline connects the Mombasa port to Nairobi and to the Kenya/Uganda border at Malaba.
Even though the freight performance has continued to decline, it still plays a critical role in the transport of export and import goods which account for about 35% of the long haul freight traffic handled at the port of Mombasa.
But operations are hampered by the poor condition of tracks and ageing rolling stock and locomotives. The operations of the Kenya and Uganda Railways networks are currently under concession.
With the poor performance and falling service levels of the railway transport system, the road transport has taken a large proportion of the freight and passenger services in the region.