By Nunn Asa
It will soon take you 15 minutes to travel from Syokimau to Nairobi’s city centre instead of the many hours spent in traffic snarl-ups on Mombasa Road.
This follows the completion of the first phase of the Nairobi Commuter Rail (NCR) project that includes a new commuter railway station at Syokimau and a two-kilometre line connecting it to the old Embakasi line.
Initial tests early this week saw the train take 15 minutes from the Syokimau station to the central business district, a distance that usually takes motorist close to an hour at rush hour.
The plan is set to reduce Nairobi’s reliance on matatu transport and eliminate traffic jams in the city with master plans including the proposed construction of new lines to satellite towns such as Ngong, Kiserian and Kikuyu. Four stations are scheduled
to be constructed, according to the Nairobi urban transport master plan under the Vision 2030 and two of them, Imara-Daima and Makadara are under construction with the latter expected to be twice the size of Syokimau.
The Sh200 million-rail line is the first Kenya has built since the Second World War. It is part of the larger Sh24 billion urban transport network that will connect Nairobi’s estates with the Central Business District.
The new service is targeting commuters from Syokimau, Kitengela, Athi River Machakos and Mombasa Road.
According to G G Tatache, Kenya Railways General Manager Corporate Affairs the commuter train and electronic ticketing is expected to move 10,000 to 20,000 passengers daily.
The station set to start operations in August is the first intercity connection with all amenities aimed at decongesting Mombasa Road as well as ease access to the city. Additionally, the project will also open up new opportunities for employment and housing.
“This first phase of the new railway will be served by six refurbished coaches, although in the long run there will be 20 coaches, each with a capacity of 200 passengers.”