Housing and Urban Development PS Charles Hinga yesterday revealed that Kenya Railways is on course with the implementation of the Commuter Rail Masterplan covering the Nairobi Metropolitan Region.
The commuter rail system is envisaged to be the backbone of mass public transport within the Nairobi Metropolitan Region. The process of developing the masterplan was funded by the government of Kenya through financing credit from the World Bank.
“From the Commuter Rail Masterplan, we extracted what low hanging fruits and developed a quick wins plan which forms the immediate actions of what can be done within the limited resources but will have high impact. This is what we are now implementing,” said the PS
It has been estimated that currently the commuter rail is only responsible for carrying 1% of city passenger traffic during peak hours. Kenya Railways have estimated that just approximately 13,000 passengers use the network on a daily basis.
A Quick Win report of the master plan gives an overview of the problems and causes for the poor level of service on the current commuter railway network. The main problems highlighted include the low level of demand for commuter rail, substandard station facilities, low integration with other modes, low quality of service and the low level of supply with a fleet of only four old locomotives.
The report recommended five immediate actions by Kenya Railways and the Ministry of Transport estimated to cost about Ksh. 2.5 billion within 6 to 12 months.
Immediate actions include upgrading 20 mini stations, repair and maintenance of existing locomotives, modernization of Nairobi Central Station, and repair of critical sections on the current tracks. In addition, the plan recommended creation of a passing loop at Imara-Daima.
The first stage is to set up a Commuter Rail Unit within KR that will become a focal point for commuter services. This includes improving the five lines (to Siokymau, Embakasi Village, Thika, Kikuyu and line 5 to Kitengela).
The second stage is to be implemented over a much longer period as it involves building nine new stations including the upgrade of four mini stations (Kenyatta University, Umoja, Kibera and Thogoto) which will be built during the Immediate Actions programme.
In addition, it calls for the overall refurbishment of permanent way components, acquisition of new rolling stock, provision of train control systems for the network and building a new depot and workshops in Makadara.
The second stage, which could be implemented within 5 years, would follow the Immediate Actions programme and is estimated to cost a further Ksh. 28.4 billion. KR expects to increase the number of round trips will increase from the current 14 round trips per day to 81 round trips per day following these improvements.
According to the Housing PS. the government has already began executing the quick wins report.
“As we executed the quick wins report, it became abundantly clear that with SGR to Naivasha going live the extent of the metropolis had expanded to Nakuru. We thus harmonized the 2 networks with the following existing and planned stations to the year 2035,” he said.