Tag Archives: Kenya

2018-2022: Railway News from Kenya

This post includes a selection of news items about Kenya Railways in the period from 2018 to the Autumn of 2022. The items included are by no means exhaustive but they might be of interest! ……..

The Birth of a Nation: preserving records on the Kenya-Uganda railway line (EAP1143)

In 2018 the British Library funded a small pilot project undertaken in Nairobi Railway Museum’s archive. This was a low cost 6 month pilot which identified the condition of the archived documents and photographs and improved storage and access to them.

The photographs which were digitised all seem to predate the construction of the railway and document the life and times of people who lived on its route. [1]

The Standard-Gauge Line

In 2018, NPR reported that the “Standard Gauge Railway station in Nairobi is easily the most impressive public building in Kenya.” [8] The station is “adventurous. It’s all gray and modern. Geometric shapes form an abstract locomotive, and red neon announces the “Nairobi Terminus.”” [8]

The Standard-gauge Railway Station at Nairobi. [8]

NPR continues: “The train runs 293 miles from Kenya’s capital city to the port of Mombasa and back twice a day and represents the biggest infrastructure project since Kenya’s independence 54 years ago. The Chinese financed it; a Chinese company built it; and the Chinese will operate it for many years to come. … The project, which launched in the summer of 2017, has not only come to signify Kenya’s ambitions, but also China’s ambitions on the African continent. In the past decade, China has become the biggest lender to governments in Africa. The money has helped build ports, roads, bridges, airports and trains. But critics warn the loans are full of traps that could leave African countries in the lurch. Kenya alone owes $5.3 billion to China.” [8]

On 16th October 2019, VOA News reported that Kenya opened the second phase of the Standard Gauge Railway Project: “Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta officially opened on Wednesday the second phase of his flagship infrastructure project: a Chinese-funded and built railway that will eventually link the port of Mombasa to Uganda. … The latest stretch of track cost $1.5 billion and runs from Nairobi to the Rift Valley town of Naivasha.” [9]

After the official opening, the president then joined the first ride along the line. … “The train stopped at every station, where a cheering crowd awaited the president. He promised them that the new railway will bring prosperity. … Kenyatta said that if the railway comes here, development also comes here.” [9]

The new track is 120 kilometers (75 miles) long and has 12 stations. Passengers can ride the trains, but the railway is mainly for cargo. The track will eventually lead to an inland container depot, (see below) from where containers will be distributed to Uganda and Rwanda, and to South Sudan. [9]

On 20th August 2021 the Ugandan newspaper, ‘The Independent’ reported that Kenya’s Standard-gauge railway line transported 2.31 million tons of cargo between January and the end of May that year: “an increase of about 45 percent from the similar period in 2020, according to data released on Thursday from the Kenya Railways Corporation.” [10]

“The rise in cargo volumes saw an increase in revenue generated during the months to 6.2 billion shillings (about 57 million U.S. dollars), up from 41.4 million dollars generated from January to May in 2020, it said. … The number of passengers using the train during the first five months of 2021 nearly doubled amid COVID-19 pandemic. … Some 601,201 passengers were ferried between the capital Nairobi and the coastal city of Mombasa during the period, up from 330,232 in 2020 when the country grappled with COVID-19 pandemic, the corporation said. … This generated revenue of 5.9 million dollars, up from 3.3 million dollars generated between January and May in 2020.” [10]

Refurbishment of Nairobi Central Station

Major renovations at Nairobi Central Station began on 27th July 2020. By January 2021, the work was well-advanced. Kenya Railways reported that the work would facilitate the use of the new DMUs due to arrive in the country.

Renovation work at Nairobi Central Station in January 2021. [5]

Kenya Railways stated on 13th January 2021 that, “as the rehabilitation works continue[d], stringent measures [were] put in place to safeguard daily commuters as they access[ed] the station.” [5]

Designated boarding points were set for various trains to facilitate safe movement of passengers within the Nairobi Central Station. For instance, Kikuyu and Ruiru trains, the boarding point was designated on the Western end of the Nairobi Central Station and it was to be accessed from Railways Police station. While passengers boarding Syokimau & SGR Link trains boarded the trains from the Eastern end of the station with the access point being adjacent to Guava restaurant.

Kenya Railways stated that, “The rehabilitation of Nairobi Central Station will not only give it a new face but also show KR is dedicated in making transportation better.” [5]

Plans for the full renewal of Nairobi Central Station were published in May 2022. The project has been sponsored by both the British and Kenyan Governments.

Design office view of the proposed renewed Central Station. [6]

THE British and Kenyan governments unveiled the final design of Nairobi’s new Central Railway Station and surrounding public area, which has been developed as part of the Nairobi Railway City redevelopment programme. [6]

The IRJ reported that, “The design was developed by SNC-Lavalin subsidiary Atkins and submitted to Kenya Railways and the Ministry of Transport. … The station is designed to accommodate up to 30,000 passengers per hour at peak periods, and will have 6000m2 of concourse space. The station will offer a new covered public space for the city with retail outlets and other amenities …. It features separate entrance and exit routes to avoid conflicting flows and ensure passengers can get to and from the platforms efficiently. … Three existing platforms will be joined by six additional passenger platforms, and four dedicated freight lines will be built. Two platform bridges will be built, with one for passengers entering the station and one for passengers exiting.” [6]

A few design office perspective views are shown below:

The SGR to MGR link at Naivasha

In July 2022, President Uhuru Kenyatta officially commissioned the Standard Gauge Railway – Metre Gauge Railway Passenger Rail Link at the Kenya Railways Mai Mahiu Station in Naivasha, Nakuru County. The ceremony took place on Tuesday, 26th July 2022.

The 5km link will enable passengers traveling to Western Kenya by train to switch from the standard-gauge service to that of the metre-gauge and vice versa. Kenya Railways reported that it would as a result be possible to travel exclusively by rail from Mombasa through Kilifi, Kwale, Taita Taveta, Makueni, Machakos, Kijiado and Nairobi onwards to Nakuru, Kisumu, Eldoret, Kitale, Nyahururu, Nanyuki, Malaba and Bungoma. [2]

Naivasha Inland Container Depot

On the same day (26th July 2022) the Naivasha Inland Container Depot (ICD) was officially opened by President Uhuru Kenyatta.

The Naivasha ICD facility which incorporates both the Standard Gauge Railway and the Metre Gauge Railway line will handle mainly transit cargo to the Great Lakes Region including Uganda, South Sudan, DR Congo, Northern Tanzania, Rwanda, and Burundi, which account for around 30% of imports and exports through the Port of Mombasa.

The SGR/MGR Link referred to above will greatly facilitate the transshipment process. All Transit cargo can now be delivered to the facility straight from the Port of Mombasa as either Through Bill of Lading (TBL) or merchant haulage (Non-TBL), while exports and empty containers can also be consolidated at the Naivasha ICD and railed to the Port of Mombasa for onward shipping.

Kenya Railways reported that, “The depot is linked to the Mombasa Port container terminal by a rail-tainer service on the Mombasa to Suswa Standard Gauge Railway line. It will serve to bring port services closer to customers and reduce congestion at the Port of Mombasa, Nairobi Inland Container Depot and on the roads. It is convenient for East African partner states who will not have to cover an entire 572 kilometres by road between Mombasa and Naivasha. From Naivasha ICD to Malaba Railway Yard, cargo will be transported over 36 hours and it will cost $860.”

Kenya Railways also affirmed that, “The Naivasha ICD includes a one-stop centre for ease of operations and efficient service delivery. The port houses all the Government agencies involved in handling of cargo namely Kenya Railways, Kenya Ports Authority, Kenya Revenue Authority, Kenya Bureau of Standards, Port Health (Public Health) and Revenue Authority officers from partner states of Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania.” [3]

Nakuru Railway Station

President Uhuru Kenyatta officially commissioned the revitalized 217km Nakuru-Kisumu Metre-Gauge Railway (MGR) and the 465km Longonot–Malaba segment as well as the refurbished Nakuru Railway Station.

Kenya Railways reported on 28th July 2022 that the re-commissioning had taken place: “The iconic Nakuru Railway Station is a key transit station for cargo and passenger train services to and from Western Kenya, and is the aggregation hub for farm produce from the agriculturally rich Central Rift region for onward freight to the Coast for export.” [4]

“Nakuru town started as a railway station on Kenyan-Uganda railway line at the turn of 20th century. It was built in 1900 and later expanded in 1957. It sits on the east side of the centre of Nakuru. The town is part of the famous ‘White Highlands settlement’ areas established by the British during the colonial era. The areas surrounding Nakuru town are mainly known for their vast agricultural potential especially cash-crop farming i.e wheat, barley, pyrethrum, sisal, maize and beans. Nakuru Railway Station was built in order to serve the rapidly growing economy of the town.” [4]

Refurbished Nakuru Railway Station [7]

“Later branch lines were built to link the station to farming areas. Among these was the line linking the station to the sisal producing Solai area. Just 6.9 kilometres from Nakuru town lies Nakuru Junction station. This is the point at which the lines to Malaba and Kisumu diverge.” [4]

Suburban Services in Nairobi

Nairobi Commuter Rail Services now run regularly to Ruiru, Embakasi Village, Limuru, Syokimau and Lukenya in Kitengela. There is also a Madaraka Express Commuter Service that operates between Nairobi Terminus and Ngong station and a link service between Nairobi Central Station and the Standard-gauge Station runs at 0630hrs, 1200hrs and 2010hrs each day. [11]


1. https://eap.bl.uk/project/EAP1143, accessed on 9th September 2022.

2. https://krc.co.ke/sgr-mgr-passenger-rail-link-officially-opened, accessed on 12th October 2022.

3. https://krc.co.ke/h-e-president-uhuru-kenyatta-commissions-the-standard-gauge-railway-metre-gauge-railway-lines-passenger-rail-link, accessed on 12th October 2022.

4. https://krc.co.ke/rehabilitated-nakuru-railway-station-officially-open, accessed on 12th October 2022.

5. https://krc.co.ke/nairobi-central-station-gets-a-face-lift, accessed on 11th October 2022.

6. https://www.railjournal.com/passenger/main-line/design-unveiled-for-new-nairobi-central-railway-station, accessed on 11th October 2022.

7. https://www.capitalfm.co.ke/news/2021/09/kenya-railways-to-commence-mgr-passengers-operations-to-kisumu-in-december, accessed on 12th October 2022.

8. https://www.npr.org/2018/10/08/641625157/a-new-chinese-funded-railway-in-kenya-sparks-debt-trap-fears, 12th October 2022.

9. https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.voanews.com/amp/africa_kenya-opens-second-phase-massive-railway-project/6177699.html, accessed on 12th October 2022.

10. https://www.independent.co.ug/kenyas-modern-railway-transports-2-31-mln-tons-of-cargo-between-january-and-may, accessed on 12th October 2022.

11. https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=pfbid0eJvJuK7FVebaLxcuouXFSBviZhHu5yAE5ySPC4kRDoimGvyx5BG5QtGkVLN87KjQl&id=100064281415632, 12th October 2022.