Travellers from Kisumu and Malaba to Nairobi will, from November, get seamless train services, linking the newly built Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) line and the refurbished metre-gauge track between Nakuru and Western Kenya.
Kenya Railways Corporation Managing Director Philip Mainga said seamless services will begin before Christmas after trials on the railway line linking the SGR to the older railway track at Longonot are completed.
“Passenger operations from Nairobi to Mai Mahiu and Malaba via Longonot through a revamped metre-gauge train for visitors to and from Western parts of Kenya will start in November,” he told the Nation on Friday when he accompanied members of the Parliamentary Committee on Finance on a tour of the Naivasha station.
A spot-check by the Nation showed that the 23.5km interchange line at Longonot area in Naivasha that connects the new SGR line to the metre gauge railway is complete.
The track from Maai Mahiu to Longonot, whose construction began in August last year, is now complete, linking the SGR and the metre-gauge railway line.
On Friday, workers were putting finishing touches to the works.
Kenya Railways has also built the Longonot control station to enable smooth transportation of cargo containers and passengers from Nairobi and Mombasa to Kisumu and Malaba border into Uganda.
“Hopefully, we’re starting trial runs in the first week of October in preparation for commissioning by the President in November,” Mr Mainga revealed.
He termed the 465-kilometre stretch as critical for development to ensure connectivity from the Port of Mombasa to Malaba through Kisumu.
The century-old Nakuru-Kisumu metre gauge railway line has 18 stations serving several towns including Nakuru, Njoro, Elburgon, Molo, Londiani, Kedowa, Lumbwa, Kipkelion and Fort Ternan, which have been idle since 2008.
But the newly revamped Nakuru-Kisumu railway is now set to inject new life into a number of old towns along the line, which collapsed after the train services halted years ago.
The revival of the old railway line has sparked excitement in various towns in Nakuru,Kericho and Kisumu ,most of which served as train stations.
The Kenya Railways, which has already revamped the 18 stations, is in the process of linking the revamped metre-gauge railway line and the Naivasha Inland Container Depot (ICD).
The new link between Mai Mahiu to Longonot cost Sh5 billion.
The Nation learnt that some Sh2.5 billion went into compensating landowners.
In Nakuru, for instance; the railway line will revive business and infuse life into Njoro, Elburgon, Molo and Mau Summit towns.
In Kericho County, the railway is expected to revise business in Londiani, Kedowa, Lumbwa, Kipkelion and Fort Ternan.
Kisumu,Koru ,Muhoroni and Chemelil residents said they were upbeat that the revamped railway line will breathe new life into the areas and open up business opportunities.
“The railway line now opens Kenya to the rest of East Africa.The link is expected to accelerate the flow of cargo across the neighbouring countries, hence spurring economic growth.
“Together with the Naivasha ICD, the infrastructural developments will greatly boost trade,” Mr Mainga said.
Meanwhile, the Nation has learnt that Kenya Railways is finalising refurbishing 31 locomotives, which will be used to ferry passengers and cargo along the revamped century-old Longonot-Malaba and Nakuru-Kisumu metre-gauge lines.