Ghana's Ministry of Railways Development recently signed an agreement with the Ghana European Railway Consortium, made up of local and international contractors, for the construction of a $2.2-billion railway line under a build-own-transfer model.
The consortium, whose members include Keteke Group (Ghana), Arisu, Ralf Bankenbach, Havellandische (Germany), Voestalpine (Austria), Ipimed (France) and Salcef (Italy), edged 44 other bidders to win the contract for the Eastern Railway line to be executed over a 36-month period from the date the project breaks ground. The Ministry of Railways Development is yet to confirm either the project's starting date or details of the engineering, procurement and construction contract.
The project works include reconstruction of the existing main narrow-gauge line, completed in 1923, linking Accra to Kumasi (see map) with a branch from Achimota to Tema “to provide an alternative faster, safer and more efficient mode of transportation for freight and passenger service” according to the Ministry of Railway Development in a statement in April.
The new electrified, double-track line will widen the gauge from 1 meter to 1,455 mm, increasing the axle load from the current maximum of 13.5 tonnes to between 22 tonnes and 25 tonnes. This allow for a maximum passenger train speed of 120 km/hr and freight speed of 100 km/hr. The line will have six main stations and 34 substations.
The railway line, which will provide a reliable link to the proposed Boankra inland port and a connection to the 595 km Kumasi-Paga line, also called Central Spine, which terminates on border with Burkina Faso at Paga, has 101 bridges totaling 1055.1m including 88 on the Accra-Kumasi rail stretch and 13 on the section between Tema and Achimota.
GERC, which will operate and maintain the Eastern Railways line under a 27-year concession agreement, will also construct a sleeper-car manufacturing factory in Ghana to produce an estimated 1000 sleepers daily for feeding the project, which is expected to create 500 permanent jobs.
A project brief prepared by the Ministry of Railways Development says the current railway line alignment “has very steep gradients and sharp curves such as between Mangoase and Koforidua and between Dome and Amasaman that will need to be flattened and straightened in order to cope with higher proposed speeds of 120 km/hr.”
The government of Ghana, through the Ghana Railway Corp., will provide the railway infrastructure. The private GERC consortium companies will contribute rolling stock, station upgrades, signaling and communication equipment for the reconstructed railway line although the supplier of the equipment is yet to be confirmed.
GERC will be responsible for collecting user charges from passengers and freight end users and the consortium will recoup its investment from the tariff rate to be agreed upon with the government of Ghana.
When successfully completed, the new line is expected to support the mining of an estimated 180 million metric tons of bauxite deposits near Kibi town, 92km north of Accra and another 5 million metric tons of the mineral at Mt Ejuanema along the Eastern Railway line.
The new line is part of Ghana's planned 1394 km of rail network initially scheduled for construction or upgrading by 2020 at a cost of $7.8 billion.