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Classy rail service round the corner

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul  18 – Nairobi residents will in the next two years have a cheaper and faster public transport alternative, once the proposed upgrade of the commuter rail service is complete.

Kenya Railways Managing Director Nduva Muli reported on Monday that the project, which entails the development of rail services, modernisation of existing ones and construction of 14 new train stations, is scheduled for completion by 2013.

“The total project should be completed by early 2013,” said the MD of the project which is part of the Kenya Railway master plan to develop a quality commuter system that can help decongest the city.

The development is expected to be undertaken in three phases with the first one targeting the ‘core system’ of the Nairobi Metropolitan at an estimated cost of Sh16 billion.

This means providing a modern rail for Ruiru, Embakasi, Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) and Kikuyu.

The scope of work involves upgrading and doubling the existing track, building of a new branch line at JKIA and remodelling of existing 10 stations such as Dagoretti, Kibera, Nairobi and Makadara.

Syokimau station is the first of the many that are under design and which will be connected to Embakasi Railway station by a 2.2 kilometre-track.

The station with a design capacity to handle 20,000 people per day will have facilities such as restaurants, shops, a 1,200 capacity car park and a modern inter-change for matatus and buses.

Speaking during an inspection tour of the station which should be ready by the end of the year, Transport Permanent Secretary Dr Cyrus Njiru disclosed that the government is in the process of acquiring land for a car park for commuters getting into the city centre.

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“Passengers will be able to come and pack here and ride in a train to the Railway station in downtown Nairobi. This will provide very good relief to Mombasa Road which is currently very congested,” said the PS.

There will also be a shuttle bus service ferrying passengers from the station to the airport terminals in a journey estimated to take just five minutes.

However, the shuttle bus service will only be useful until the second phase which involves the building of a 6.5 km rail link is finished.

The double track line connecting JKIA to the mainline in Embakasi station will cross Mombasa Road through a tunnel and should be operational by the end of next year.

This service is estimated to reduce the travelling time from the Central Business District to the airport to 17 minutes.

Once Phase I is done, the government will embark on the second segment which will see the rail services extended to the outskirts of the city covering Thika, Lukenya and Limuru.

Later, Kenya Railways will build new infrastructure to serve Ngong, Kiserian, Ongata Rongai to the south, Kiambu to the North and Ruai to the North East part of Nairobi.

Upon the completion of this ambitious project, the government hopes to extend this concept to the Coast region as well as Western Province as part of the infrastructure development that is expected to play a major role in the attainment of the Vision 2030 goals.

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