Residents of Eastlands, Nairobi, can now heave a sigh of relief as the commuter rail service to the Central Business District has been restored.
The Kenya Railways Corporation says the new Embakasi, Pipeline and Donholm railway stations are now operational as part of the State agency’s plans to ease transport for city residents.
The three were among 10 new park-and-ride stations that are being upgraded as KRC seeks to increase its monthly commuters from the current 300,000 to more than two million in the next two years.
According to the new train schedule, commuters will have a maximum of two minutes to board or alight from the train, which will operate in the mornings and evenings.
The train will leave Embakasi Village at 7.05am for a 15-minute ride to Pipeline Railway Station.
It will then leave Pipeline for Doonholm Railway Station, arriving at 7.28am, and leave two minutes later for the Makadara station, a trip that will take seven minutes.
“The last stop for the commuter train will be the Nairobi CBD, where passengers will disembark at 7.54am, ready to connect to their places of work,” the KRC said.
Thousands of travellers
A similar routine will be repeated in the evening, with the train leaving the city centre at exactly 6pm and stopping at Makadara at 6.15pm for two minutes.
It will then leave for Doonholm, where it will arrive at 6.24pm, and then head to Pipeline, where it will arrive at 6.32pm, before terminating the evening journey in Embakasi Village at exactly 6.49pm.
The three new stations are set to operate on a “park-and-ride” model, which is currently being used at the Syokimau, Imara Daima and Makadara stations.
The others include Kikuyu, Dandora, Mwiki, Githurai, Kahawa, Ruiru and Athi River, which are near completion, and target a substantial proportion of the 1.5 million people who commute into the Nairobi CBD daily.
Currently, 20,000 commuters use the rail network on weekdays through lines originating from the Nairobi Central Station to Ruiru via Dandora, Githurai and Kahawa, to Syokimau via Makadara and Imara Daima, Embakasi Village via Pipeline, and Doonholm and Kikuyu via Kibera and Dagoretti.
Meanwhile, the Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) has announced that later in October, commuters will start using BRT buses to move across the city once they alight from the train.
This is part of the broader commuter-oriented transport system, in partnership with KRC, intended to save time and money while making commuting around the capital city and its environs as comfortable as possible.
According to the NMS, the clean and spacious buses will ply short routes. The BRT system's infrastructure and amenities are under construction.
In February, KRC said the government will buy 11 Diesel Multiple Units during the year at Sh1.15 billion.
The units are expected to ply five routes from the Nairobi Central Station to Embakasi Village, Syokimau, Kitengela, Kikuyu and Thika.
The five routes will later join nine new stations at Umoja, Kibera, Thika, Mbagathi Way, Kenyatta, Strathmore University, Kitengela and Thogoto. The new stations are currently under construction.