Kenya, East Africa’s largest economy, has announced plans to introduce commuter trains in 2019 in a bid to boost infrastructure development and drive economic growth.
The project is part of an initiative dubbed the Nairobi Commuter Rail Service (NCRS) development plan, which is part of Nairobi Metropolitan Transport Master Plan. Kenya currently lacks a well-developed commuter railway system, even with the introduction of its famous Standard Gauge Railway (SGR).
According to Kenya Railways, a State corporation responsible for the country’s railway network, the project aims to carry out a modernization and expansion of under-railway transport infrastructure facilities within Nairobi in order to attract passenger traffic from the roads, thereby reducing congestion.
It also seeks to create an efficient and affordable mass rapid transit transport system for the city.
“The NCRS project aims at providing passengers with safe, reliable and affordable transport services in and around Nairobi City,” Kenya Railways said in a statement.
Construction on five new stations in Nairobi’s areas of Ruiru, Kikuyu, Mwiki, Kahawa and Dandora has already been completed.
In a recent address to the general public, Kenya’s Housing and Urban Development Principal Secretary Charles Hinga said that the move is aimed at reorganizing the once-neglected railway sector.
The drive is also aimed at capitalizing on the city’s growing middle class, which is heavily reliant on the use of public transport.
The Nairobi commuter system will feature increased capacity from 5 million to 15 million passengers, initially then to 60 million passengers per year in Phase 1.
It will also feature an upgraded track and signaling systems, higher speeds, improved safety and a series of new railway stations.
Hinga said Kenya’s government is aiming for a long-term solution to perennial congestion within the city.