NAIROBI TO NAIVASHA BY TRAIN – TODAY BECOMING A REALITY
(Posted 16th October 2019)
The second phase of Kenya’s standard gauge railway, aka SGR, will be launched later today by President Kenyatta, extending the new railway line from Mombasa via Nairobi to Naivasha.
For the time being are only passenger services planned, reportedly with one train a day in both directions, although departure times and cost of economy and first class tickets are not available, another major fauxpas by Kenya Railways which clearly lacks any acumen how to market the new service.
The new line runs right across the Nairobi National Park where trial runs in past weeks often disturbed game through the incessant hooting by train drivers while crossing the bridge, as witnessed by this correspondent on several occasions.
Only four of the anticipated 12 stations along the route will be operational when the new line is opened, among them Ongata Rongai, Ngong, Mai Mahiu and Suswa.
As is customary with Kenya Railways are many announcements and U-turn reversals expected in coming days and weeks about the new route, pricing, booking services and departure times, as has been the case all along with the SGR services to and from Mombasa.
Additional plans for the SGR extension to Kisumu and the Uganda border however continue to hang in suspense as financing has been a major issue, more so as the cargo volume from Mombasa via Uganda to Rwanda has all but vanished in favour of a standard gauge railway line from Dar es Salaam to Kigali.
For that reason have both the Kenyan and Ugandan government set aside billions of Shillings in combined funding to refurbish the old narrow gauge line which was built nearly 120 years ago. The two governments have announced plans to link the two stations, SGR and narrow gauge, with an SGR extension to ease the transfer of containers from one line to the other when cargo services eventually commence.
An inland container port is also being constructed in Naivasha where Uganda has gifted Uganda land to build a container depot and ground breaking, again in the presence of President Kenyatta – it could not be ascertained if President Museveni will join him there – will be taking place today too.