A study was carried out in Kenya to examine the scope for transferring long-distance freight traffic from road to rail as a way of reducing consumption of diesel fuel by the transport sector. Both lorries and railway locomotives are powered by diesel oil, but rail is more fuel efficient. Information on long-distance traffic volumes, commodity flows and modal split was obtained from road and rail surveys of freight traffic passing into, out of and through Nairobi. A survey of consignors indicated the importance of travel time and cost in determining their choice of mode. For long-distance traffic, in general, rail offers a cheaper but slower service than road, its price advantage increasing with journey length. Modal split for competitive traffic was analysed in terms of haul length and travel cost by each mode. The results suggest that consignors place an average value on time of around K 1.5 per tonne per day, which is far higher than usually assumed in economic studies. It is concluded that fuel savings resulting from transferring goods from road to rail by normal market forces would be modest, the realistic maximum being a saving of only one or two percent of national consumption of diesel oil.

Want to know more about this project?