Commuter train services return to Kampala


(Posted 03rd December 2015)

The Kampala Capital City Authority has yesterday signed an agreement with Rift Valley Railways and Uganda Railways Corporation to operate a pilot scheme running commuter trains into the Kampala Railway Station. Trains, initially four a day, will originate in the more distant Namanve Industrial Park and through several stops enroute bring commuters into the heart of the city.

The cost of a ticket was given as Uganda Shillings 1.500 or approximately 50 US Cents, much cheaper compared to the fares of local busses or shared ‘taxis’ how the matatus in Uganda are called.

Making the announcement in a joint press conference held at the URC headquarters the Acting Managing Director of URC, Engineer Charles A. Kateeba, said: ‘The three partners had agreed to resume passenger services following signing of a Passenger services agreement in November to run the service as a pilot for a period of a year.

He continued “the results of the pilot will give us the necessary data and information to gauge the viability of this and other routes by understanding the passenger numbers and other variables so we can make a firm decision on how to proceed with commuter rail services in Kampala going forward’.

Uganda Railways will be in charge of selling the tickets as well as customer care while Rift Valley Railways will operate the trains, construct and maintain the stations and stops at Kampala, Nakawa, Kireka, Nambole and Namanve.

Explaining why the city council has been so eager to introduce commuter rail services Charles Ouma, KCCA’s Deputy Director Policy & Advisory Services, stated that ‘commuter rail forms an integral part of KCCA’s long term transport master plan because it will help reduce the pressure on road traffic particularly during the rush hours which has becoming increasingly problematic for city workers’. He added that the KCCA Executive Director had said repeatedly that she welcomes and supports all initiatives that can make transport cheaper for the ordinary wananchi. At KCCA, he added, we are pleased to be partnering with URC and RVR and making this a reality for the benefits of citizens of Kampala.

In conclusion Mr. Charles Ssentongo of Rift Valley Railways thanked KCCA and URC for partnering with them and restoring passenger services which he said was an integral part of their effort to revive the railway in the country when he said: ‘So far we have invested heavily in the rehabilitation of key infrastructure and purchase of new rolling stock this has resulted in improved efficiencies and transit times the introduction of passenger services represents just but another piece of the jigsaw in the transformation of the railway’.

The service, it is understood, will also be available from the city and nearby stations to the Nambole national stadium for football matches and other sporting and social events.