Multiple source news report today 9 June that the New Rail Line for passenger and freight trains on standard gauge 1435mm track with electrified power supply is almost completed. However, it is NOT double stacked container capable.
Shorter train lengths, lighter axle loadings <33 metric tones with shorter than 6.2 meter vertical clearance for this new East African corridor presents a rail design nowhere near as capable as modern North American freight railroads.
Why go to all of this capital expense for a new national core freight railroad with a plus 50 year life and not be able to handle the most modern current equipment? That is like building a new international airport that cannot land A380 or B777 and B747-400 aircraft. The track infrastructure here does not match modern freight rail train engineering capabilities.
Is the new rail line an improvement over the previous narrow gauge rail line? Yes,
But as a commercial business model, the new railway leaves significant economic productivity undeliverable by the freight trains. Probably an example of due diligence missed.
Who did their commercial feasibility assessment? Did they get a second opinion?
How many times will other African national leaders make the same engineering based smaller freight rail design choices?