Kenya Railways (KR) has refurbished 40 coaches which will be commissioned early next month to improve the commuter service for the Ruiru-Nairobi route.
The move is expected to ease congestion on the Thika superhighway and drastically reduce travel times for workers who live on the railway route.
Kenya Railways also said it is seeking to grow commuter numbers from the current 300,000 passengers monthly in Nairobi to two million over the next two years.
KR managing director Philip Mainga Monday told the Business Daily that the first batch of 20 coaches will be operational in July as part of a more comprehensive programme to decongest Nairobi traffic.
“This is part of our masterplan for Nairobi to phase out old coaches which are dilapidated as we plan to bring the new ones on board,” said Mr Maingi.
Currently, the Ruiru-Nairobi railway route is served by 20 coaches. A trip from Ruiru to Nairobi costs Sh50 by train although it fluctuates for matatus depending on the hour of the day.
“We have been rehabilitating the coaches in phases and we have made good progress for operating the railway line with modern refurbished coaches together with the new UDM that will be coming on board soon,’’ Mr Maingi said.
“The coaches were overhauled, refurbished and remodelled as part of the initiatives to modernise and upgrade the Nairobi Commuter Rail Service which serves the capital city’s Central Business District and residential areas within the city and its environs,’’ said Mr Maingi.
The idea of expanding the capacity of the route was buoyed by the high population and the settlements around the railway line that include Ruiru, Kahawa Wendani, Githurai 45, Mwiki, Dandora, Makadara and Nairobi railway station.
“When you look at Ruiru, both the population and settlement around the railway line, you notice places like Githurai 45, Kahawa, Mwiki and Dandora have the highest numbers of commuters and this summarises our course,” said Maingi.
The State agency said the coaches were refurbished locally but did not disclose how much the works cost. Other routes on which Kenya Railways operates commuter lines and coaches include Nairobi to Embakasi, Nairobi to Syokimau, Nairobi to Kikuyu as well as the link between Nairobi and the Standard Gauge Railway Terminal.