Mombasa and Kisumu passenger train to resume in December
- The Kisumu train on meter gauge rail will end its journey at Naivasha station where passengers will transfer to SGR via a new 23.5 kilometer link line to Longonot.
- It is unclear how much passengers would pay to travel between Mombasa and western Kenya.
- The freight train will also be launched at the same time.
Travelers from Mombasa to Kisumu via Nairobi will enjoy continuous rail services from early December, linking the standard gauge railway (SGR) line and the upgraded meter gauge track.
Kenya Railways Corporation Chief Executive Philip Mainga has set the date for continued services after the construction of a railway line linking the SGR to the old Longonot Railway.
The company has spent billions of shillings revamping its century-old rail network to boost bulk cargo transport and passenger travel.
“We are finally ready to commission passenger operations on the Nakuru-Kisumu meter gauge line in early December,” Mainga told the business daily in an interview on Saturday.
“The train will be a game-changer in this region. This will unlock Western Kenya for business as we will also be launching freight business at the same time.
The old line from Naivasha to Malaba has been operational but is in poor condition, limiting freight volumes and train speeds.
The Nakuru track, which passes through Njoro, Londiani, Kisumu and ends at Butere, was not used.
The renovation of the Kisumu line has been completed and work on the Malaba track is underway in the race to connect the old railway line to SGR.
The Kisumu train on meter gauge rail will end its journey at Naivasha station where passengers will transfer to SGR via a new 23.5 kilometer link line to Longonot.
The continued service comes more than a decade after the company stopped operating passenger trains to western Kenya due to the dilapidated state of the rail.
It is unclear how much passengers would pay to travel between Mombasa and western Kenya.
Kenya abandoned plans to extend the SGR to Kisumu and later to the Ugandan border after failing to secure a multi-billion shilling loan from China, which funded the first and second phases of the project.
The old line, which had a thriving passenger service in the 1990s, will be the main supply route for transporting cargo to neighboring countries through the port of Kisumu.
The upgrade plans came after Uganda also announced it would start renovating the old rail network to boost bulk cargo transport, after it failed to secure $2.2 billion in Chinese funding. dollars for a new SGR line.
A freight rail business is essential to make Kisumu Port a viable public investment.
The port is ready for use, but its official launch has been delayed. It is expected to boost the western Kenyan city’s fortunes as a regional economic hub.
The port will make Lake Victoria a crucial transport corridor for shipping general cargo to and from the East African region.
Some of the goods that Kenya plans to export through the port are fertilizers, cement, rice, edible oil, and general dry goods such as spare parts. Kenya opened the Mombasa-Nairobi SGR line in 2017 and another new line to Naivasha in 2019.
It plans to link the old railway line to the SGR line at Naivasha for smooth freight movements to neighboring countries.
The freight and passenger services will improve the economic viability of the SGR line by facilitating the movement of freight and passengers from the Port of Mombasa to Uganda and neighboring countries.
It was feared that the Mombasa to Naivasha SGR line, which costs about 477 billion shillings, would not be economically viable if it was not connected to Kampala, which is a major user of the port of Mombasa for its imports.