Kenya: Rebuilding Railway Transport in Kenya – Milestones and Ongoing Works By Kenya Railways

Kenya under President Uhuru Kenyatta has transformed the transport landscape of East Africa, generating positive competition in the region. Here, Kenyan Railway Corporation flaunts its records of achievements.

Sponsored by Kenya Railways Corporation

Kenya Railways has embarked on revitalising rail transport in the country through the development of an integrated rail network featuring increased efficiency and safety. The corporation is driven by the vision of becoming a world-class provider of rail services.

Since the launch of Kenya Vision 2030, Kenya Railways has accomplished major milestones, including construction and operation of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR), rehabilitation of the Metre Gauge Railway, Nairobi Commuter Service, MV Uhuru and the Railway Training Institute.

Following are the achievements and ongoing projects towards realising the Kenya Railways dream:

The Standard Gauge Railway (SGR)

The SGR has a total network of 592km from Mombasa to Nairobi and Naivasha. Constructionof the SGR line also led to expansion of the Inland Container Deport (ICD) in Embakasi, Nairobi, and creation of another ICD at Mai Mahiu, Naivasha. These have contributed to decongestion of the sea port of Mombasa and facilitated seamless transit of goods destined to Western Kenya and neighbouring countries.

Since commencing operations of the Madaraka Express service in 2017, Kenya Railways has transported over 5.4 million passengers and more than 1.3 million Twenty-foot Equivalent Units (TEUS) of cargo.

The Metre Gauge Railway (MGR)

The MGR has a total network of 2,046km spread across the country. The Corporation has embarked on rehabilitation of the Metre Gauge Railway infrastructure to increase its reliability, efficiency and safety for freight haulage and passenger movements.

So far, Kenya Railways has constructed 10 new commuter stations in Nairobi, undertaken routine maintenance of 1,082km of MGR track and the revitalised 177km Thika-Nanyuki branch line.

Additionally, the Corporation has rehabilitated 120 fuel tank wagons, five (5) Locomotives and three (3) brake vans, and refurbished 78 passenger coaches.

Ongoing is the rehabilitation of additional 31 locomotives at the Railway Central workshops. Other continuing projects include rehabilitation of:

165km of Nairobi Commuter Rail network

217km Nakuru-Kisumu Branch line

78km Gilgil-Nyahururu Branch line

69km Kisumu-Butere Branch line

65km Leseru-Kitale Branch line

456km Mombasa-Konza MGR mainline

465km Longonot-Malaba MGR mainline

57km Nairobi (Kikuyu)-Longonot MGR mainline and rehabilitation, upgrade and construction of 26.4km MGR sidings for targeted customers and industrial zones.

Nairobi Commuter Rail Service

The revitalised Nairobi Commuter Railway Service was commissioned by President Uhuru Kenyatta on November 10, 2020. The service had been undergoing major infrastructure improvements to integrate and expand different components, with the aim of modernising and upgrading the existing infrastructure.

The main components of the upgrade are construction of new and modernisation of existing stations, acquisition of Diesel Multiple Units (DMUs), refurbishing of passenger coaches, rehabilitation of locomotives and other rolling stock, and planned rehabilitation of the entire network deployed under commuter rail services.

The Nairobi Commuter Railway Service is envisaged to improve the level of service of the commuter passengers, increase safety of operations and reduce the transit time of the trains. The outstanding features of the service include:

‘Park & Ride’ facilities

Ample security (CCTV cameras)

Automated ticketing system

Comfortable coaches.

Kenya Railways Transit Shed

The Kenya Railways Transit Shed is a temporary storage facility approved by the Kenya Revenue Authority as customs facility for cargo deconsolidation by small and medium enterprises. Located within Nairobi CBD, the Transit Shed, officially inaugurated by President Kenyatta on November 10, 2020, has a capacity to handle up to 1,000 Twenty-foot Equivalent Units.

The launch of operations at the transit shed has decongested the Nairobi ICD, while providing services closer to the small-scale traders. In collaboration with approved freight consolidators, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) enjoy minimised shipping costs, faster transit time and decreased wait time.

Railway Training Institute

The Railway Training Institute (RTI) is the skills development centre for the railway sector. The institute has undergone a series of transformations through which several reforms have been implemented.

As the demand for efficient transport in the country grows, the institute is harnessing the rich heritage to reposition itself into a centre of excellence in training transport and logistics management for railway, marine and road sectors.

RTI has been recognised as a centre of excellence in railway under the Northern Corridor Integrated Project Framework. The institute has established a Curriculum Development Unit to revise and develop the railway curriculum in accordance with the TVET Act 2013 and align training with prevailing market dynamics.

Kenya Railways Marine School

The New Kenya Railways Marine School was officially commissioned by President Kenyatta on May 31, 2021. The school is fully owned by Kenya Railways as a constituent campus of RTI.

It is dedicated to specialised marine and maritime education and training for the region (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda, DRC Congo, South Sudan). It will also be offering railway and transport logistics courses.

The school is accredited by the Kenya Maritime Authority (KMA) to offer marine and maritime courses in line with International Maritime Organisation (IMO) model courses.

The construction of this facility was funded by Government of Kenya and the World Bank.

MV Uhuru 1

Refitting of the MV Uhuru was done in 2019 by Kenya Railways and Kenya Defence Forces, after being grounded for 15 years. The vessel was officially relaunched on May 31, 2021 by President Kenyatta.

To tap into the petroleum products transportation business from Kenya Pipeline Corporation (KPC) Depot in Kisumu to Uganda through MV Uhuru, Kenya Railways constructed a new 1.8km railway line to the KPC depot.


After rehabilitation, the ship carried the first loaded 22 wagons on December 20, 2019, to Port Bell in Uganda.

MV Uhuru transports petroleum products from Kisumu Port to Port Bell and Jinja in Uganda.

Kisumu Port to Port Bell is 282km, taking approximately 17hrs.

Kisumu Port to Jinja is 244km, taking approximately 13hrs.

Based on availability of 80 percent, the Vessel can make 10 round trips in a month, between Kisumu Port and Port Bell.

The vessel can carry 22 tank wagons, bringing a total of 1,100,000 litres.

To date, the ship has made 50 voyages, carrying a total of 59,392.63 tones

Kenya Railways Nairobi Central Workshops

The Kenya Railways Nairobi Central Workshops have also undergone rehabilitation to support the maintenance of locomotives, freight wagons, passenger coaches, DMUs, rail rescue cranes, and support plant and equipment. The facility has a capacity to overhaul at least eight (8) wagons in a day, and a locomotive within 21 days.

Works carried out in the workshops include:

Overhaul of wagons, coaches and locomotives

Rehabilitation of wagons, coaches and locomotives

Major repairs and services on wagons, coaches and locomotives

Servicing of sub-assemblies for use in the regional depots

Manufacture and repair of parts

Special projects, upgrades and modifications of wagons, coaches and locomotives

Accident repairs of wagons, coaches and locomotives

Maintenance of electrical and mechanical machines, equipment, cranes, and main substation

Analysis of failures, design and quality checks.

Part of the major projects undertaken include, rehabilitation of 11 locomotives, overhaul of 22 locomotives, overhaul of over 300 wagons, rehabilitation of 74 passenger coaches, rehabilitation of Nanyuki line locomotives, AAR couplers project, ballast project, installation of locomotives microprocessors project (QTRON), and installation of Onboard computers (OBC) project, among others.

Nairobi Railway City: Designing the future for passengers

The Nairobi Railway City is an iconic multi-modal urban development to occupy 425 acres between Haile Selasie Avenue, Uhuru Highway, Landhies Road and Bunyala Road. Last year (2020), the government released the master plan of the proposed Nairobi Railway City, which seeks to expand and decongest the Central Business District.

The strategic location of the Nairobi Central Railway Station area positions it perfectly to be an iconic nerve centre for the Nairobi Multimodal Transport System with a world-class new Central Railway Station incorporating mixed use commercial developments and intermodal facilities. In addition to increasing our revenue base, the Railway City will:

Regenerate the area around Nairobi Central Railway Station into a modern railway city

Provide a liveable and sustainable urban space

Create a Transit Oriented Development (ToD) to support ridership for the Nairobi Commuter Rail

Create a transport hub with multi-modal transport facilities

Expand the Nairobi CBD to the south

Provide an iconic development to position Nairobi as a leading world city.

Read the original article on Nation.

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