Kenya Railways Corporation (KRC) plans to start passenger service on the newly refurbished Nairobi – Nanyuki line.
Business Daily reports that Commuters travelling from Nairobi to Nanyuki will pay Sh200 fare on second class coaches and between Sh50 and Sh100 for inter-terminus trips that will serve Murang’a, Makuyu, Maragua, Sagana, Karatina, Kiganjo, Chaka and Naromoru stations.
KRC is spending billions of shillings on rehabilitating decades-old lines to boost the use of rail for cargo and passenger travel.
It injected Sh1.2 billion out of Sh3 billion that was used to revamp the Nairobi-Nanyuki line, with rest coming from Kenya Pipeline Corporation (KPC) through the Treasury as special dividends.
Cargo operations on the rehabilitated 240-kilometre Nairobi-Nanyuki started in August and targets goods like fuel, fertilisers, hardware, cereals and other farm produce. Kenya Railways is also targeting business people and leisure travellers.
“We are launching passenger operations on the Nairobi-Nanyuki meter gauge line this coming Friday targeting people planning to visit the Central region for short vacations,” Kenya Railways managing director Philip Mainga said yesterday.
Rehabilitation of the metre gauge railway stretch is expected to increase economic activities in northern and Mt Kenya regions. The passenger service will initially operate on Fridays and Sundays, and the rail firm will increase frequencies depending on demand.
The train with a capacity of up to 1,600 passengers on a single trip will depart from Nairobi at 8am to arrive in Nanyuki at 2pm. It will leave Nanyuki on Sunday at 8am to arrive in the capital city at 2pm.
“We will be targeting smallholder farmers between these counties and this means that we have to keep the train fare low to accommodate more numbers,” said Mr Mainga.
Matatu operators that ply the route such as 2NK charge Sh600 on a single trip.
The railway line was constructed by the colonial government in 1908 to facilitate commercial farming by the white settlers who had pitched tent in Laikipia.
The revival of the line that was lastly used in the late 1990s means that produce like coffee and tea destined for sea export will be transported to the Port of Mombasa directly by railway.
From the Nairobi-Nanyuki metre-gauge line, the cargo will be transferred to the modern standard gauge rail (SGR) line that links the city to the Mombasa port.
Kenya opened the SGR line linking the port of Mombasa with the Nairobi in 2017 at a cost of $3.2 billion (Sh355 billion).
This was then linked with another new line, costing $1.5 billion (Sh166 billion) and also funded by Chinese loans, to Naivasha.
Besides the Nairobi-Nanyuki line, Kenya Railways is also upgrading of the old railway track from Naivasha to Malaba, as it mulls over new ways to link the century-old line to the SGR line at Naivasha.
Plans to link the Malaba meter gauge line to the SGR come as Kenya prepares to clear goods imported through the Port of Mombasa and headed to western Kenya and the neighbouring countries of Uganda, the Democratic Republic Congo and South Sudan through the Naivasha dry port.
The rail firm also started to revamp of the old line from Nakuru to Kisumu after dropping the use of external contractors.
Kenya dropped its plan to extend the SGR to Kisumu and later on to the Ugandan border after failing to secure a loan from China, which funded the first and second phases of the project.
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