NAIROBI, Kenya Aug 17 – The Kenya Railways Corporation (KR) is considering the construction of an underground railway line that will link the upcoming Syokimau station to the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.
The tunnel linking the two stations is likely to delay plans to have the Syokimau station operational by December this year.
Kenya Railways Managing Director Nduva Muli said on Wednesday feasibility studies indicated that it would be costly to have the line crossing through the busy Mombasa road highway.
Also under consideration is the construction of an overpass across the highway.
“The actual arrangement is yet to be determined and we are still in the design stages to determine which option suits us best,” Mr Muli said.
The 6.5 kilometre rail will be built to JKIA, a station next to Unit 3 and another next to Mombasa Road.
Should Kenya Railways opt for the underground tunnel it is expected to cost an estimated Sh3.2 billion to construct.
The Syokimau station, which is part of the 12 new stations in and around Nairobi Kenya Railways, is constructing as part of the Nairobi Commuter rail service. The last station to be put up was in 1935 in Butere.
The new terminal will seek to decongest Nairobi with a 100-kilometre commuter rail line in and around the city at a cost of Sh16 billion offering an alternative mode of transport.
The scope of work involves upgrading and doubling the existing track and remodelling of existing 10 stations such as Dagoretti, Kibera, Nairobi and Makadara.
Encroachment along the railway corridor however poses a big challenge to the commuter rail project.
“You cannot proceed with modernisation at the pace you want unless something is done about the people living along the railway line,” Minister for Metropolitan Development Njeru Githae said when he paid a visit to the Syokimau station.
Mr Githae said his ministry would work together with that of Local Government to ensure all those encroaching are relocated before the end of the year.
Mr Muli said KR had already developed a relocation plan and was working together with the World Bank to come up with strategies to avoid future encroachment.
The MD also wants the bus terminus at the entrance of the Nairobi Railway Station moved to create room for commuters in the envisioned Nairobi Commuter Rail Project.
Mr Muli also said KR has developed a national railway master plan, which has been adopted by the government and East African Community.
Three corridors, Mombasa-Kampala-Kisumu (northern), Lamu-Juba and Nairobi to Addis Ababa have been identified.
At the northern corridor, 95 percent of freight traffic (17.5 million tonnes) moves by road causing expensive damage to the infrastructure and serious congestion at the port.
“The existing metre railway does not have the capacity to absorb sufficient traffic from the roads to ease traffic due to lack of investment in infrastructure upgrading and maintenance,” he said.