Plans to upgrade the aging Nairobi Commuter Railway are at an advanced stage with the anticipated arrival of eleven new Diesel Multiple Units (DMUs) later this year.
The Kenya Railways Cooperation (KRC) said in a tweet Thursday afternoon the new trains are part of a revitalization masterplan that will see the current locomotive-hauled trains phased out.
Transport Cabinet Secretary Macharia Kamau said the government was keen on upgrading metre-gauge railway infrastructure connecting the Central Business District to several suburbs in a bid to decongest major city roads.
“A few weeks ago, I sent the Transport Principal Secretary to Spain to see how we can work with some partners to give us more units in terms of running our train services,” he said during an inspection tour of the Nairobi Railway Station.
The ministry aims at increasing the number of commuters to at least eight million by 2022.
Current KRC estimates show about 30,000 commuters use the locomotive-hauled trains to and from the city.
DMUs have recently emerged as the preferred commuter and long-distance trains due to their unique design that allows on-board diesel engines power each unit hence supplying traction power to traction monitors in each railcar connected to the lead unit.
The trains are available in three broad categories based on the transmission type namely diesel–electric (DEMU), diesel–mechanical (DMMU) or diesel–hydraulic (DHMU).
The rollout of a reliable and efficient train service is seen a critical to resolving the persistent traffic congestion in Nairobi.
The World Bank in 2018 projected the cost of traffic snarl up at Sh 50 million a day, a situation that continues to limit productivity in Nairobi.
The situation could worsen by 2030 when the city’s population is expected to double with car ownership also set to rise.
Efforts to decongest the city by locking out low-capacity vehicles recently hit a snag after millions of city residents reported major delays as public service vehicles blocked inlets into the city due to the unavailability of ample parking stations at recommended termini.
Plans are underway to construct a four-lane 16.5-kilometre expressway connecting Gitaru and Ruaka to ease congestion in the city.
Plans by the transport ministry also involve the creation of an interchanges in addition to the completion of the Sh 17 billion Western Bypass that will link the Southern Bypass in Gitaru and the Northern Bypass in Ruaka.
The Western Bypass for instance will have six interchanges and overpasses in Gitaru, Ndenderu, Rumingi, Wangige, Kahara, and Ruaka.