Chief Administrative Secretary Ministry of Transport Chris Obure and Hellen Mwariri Chief Finance officer at Kenya Airways during the launch of the first phase of Nairobi commuter Rail - JKIA Express service to passengers, travel agents and staff at the Nairobi Central Railways station. Dec 17, 2020. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

Nairobi residents will now pay Sh250 to ride the train from the city centre to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) and vice versa for the next 90 days. The announcement was made yesterday by Kenya Railways, which said the reduction from Sh500 was for a limited time, and was aimed at making the train accessible to more passengers.

“Why miss your flight? Get to and from JKIA with the Nairobi commuter train-DMU express service and connect seamlessly to over 10 flights daily to Mombasa and Kisumu,” a notice from the authority yesterday read.

The Nairobi Commuter Rail Service to JKIA journey entails a ride on the DMU train up to Embakasi Village station. Commuters will then board the BRT bus to the JKIA. Kenya Railways said the train will take 20 minutes from the central station to the Embakasi station and a further 10 mins connection using the Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) system to JKIA.

Commuters from town to the airport - who choose to travel during morning hours - will board the train which departs at 5.45am and arrives at the Embakasi Village station at 6.10am. They will then board a bus which will depart at 6.20am and arrive at the airport at 6.35am. Those travelling at mid-morning will board the train at 11am and arrive at Embakasi at 11.25am, board the bus at 11.35 and arrive at JKIA at 11.50am.

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Have option

There is also an option for residents to travel at night by boarding the train from town at 8pm, arrive in Embakasi at 8.25pm, boarding the bus by 8.35pm and get to JKIA at 9pm. However, there are only two trains for passengers coming from JKIA to town. Passengers landing at JKIA at the crack of dawn have the option to board the bus and depart by 6am, arrive at the Embakasi station by 6.15am, board the train and depart by 6.19am and arrive in town by 6.54am.

JKIA. (Courtesy)

Those who land at mid-day have an option to board the bus and depart by 11.50 am, arrive at Embakasi station by 12.05 pm, board the train which departs at 12.10 pm and arrive in town by 12.44 pm. The development comes after the Kenya Railway commissioned its express service to JKIA, which is expected to ease traveler’s burden as construction peaks along Mombasa Road. The commissioning of the JKIA Express Service also comes nearly a month after Diesel Multiple-Units (DMUs) began to ply key routes in Nairobi.

During the commission of the express service, Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia said the railway link from town to JKIA was part of the integrated city transport system. The link is meant to spare travellers long hours in traffic on Mombasa Road given the ongoing construction of the JKIA Expressway.

“This is how an integrated city transit system should work. With this, we want to ensure that locals and visitors can enjoy the city and what it has to offer with ease of mind that they will go to the airport hassle free,” Macharia said.

Kenya Railways Managing Director Philip Mainga said there will be options for commuters to and from JKIA.

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Flight schedule

Since the DMUs were launched last month, the trains have ferried more than 200,000 passengers. Mainga said with six more DMUs expected by end of January 2021, the number will double.

Kenya Railways said the DMU train schedule was aligned with Kenya Airways’ flight timings given that the airport was busiest during morning hours and at night.

“For now we are focused on entrenching the train culture in Kenya and specifically Nairobi and most importantly providing a service rather than chasing after profits. We want to see people park their cars and ride the train like in other developed cities,” it said.