Nairobi-Kisumu train starts operation, passengers to pay Sh600

A commuter train at Nakuru Railway station on April 12, 2021. The train will be expect to make trips to Nakuru-Kisumu and Nakuru-Malaba. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

After more than two decades, residents of Western Kenya are set to start enjoying rail services.

This follows the planned reintroduction of passenger transport on the rehabilitated Kisumu-Nakuru line on Friday.

The development signals the climax of the Sh3.7 billion revival of a line that has been lying idle for more than two decades after rail services collapsed in the 1990s.

If all goes according to plan, the first train will hit the rail from Nairobi to Kisumu on December 17 and is expected to make a 12-hour trip from Nairobi to Kisumu. The train will make a stop in Nakuru.

According to the corporation, the journey from Kisumu to Nairobi will begin two days later on December 19.

The corporation says the price of tickets will be Sh600 from Kisumu to Nairobi while passengers eyeing first class will part with Sh2,000. The journey from Kisumu to Nakuru will cost Sh400.

The corporation made the announcement today and welcomed passengers to the new route.

"Rediscover the magical journey to Kisumu with us aboard the train from December 17, 2021," said Kenya Railways.

The move is a major boost for a region that has been waiting eagerly for the return of the railway transport that breathed life to the region’s economy in the 1980s and 1990s.

Moments after Kenya Railways released its train schedule, residents took to social media with celebratory messages as they wait for the launch of the first train.

“Christmas just made for residents of Nakuru and Kisumu cities... Kisumu Safari Train resumes this Friday 17th December after decades. Affordable, fast enough, convenient and comfortable,” said Stephen Ndugu, a local.

There are hopes the return of the railway is set to have a ripple effect in the region and result into the revival of several towns and centres that collapsed with the fall of the railway line.

The return also signals better days for transport and logistics in a region that has always relied on trucks since the collapse of the railway.

Once bustling with life, Fort Tenan, Kibos, Miwani, Kibigori, Koru and Muhoroni towns that dot the line are among those expected to benefit from the return of the railway.

Excited residents are hopeful the project will be a major boost, not just to Kisumu, but economies of neighbouring counties as well.

Residents of Kibos, Miwani and Koru are hopeful that revival of the railway line with change economic fortunes of the region and improve their lives through creation of jobs.

Last week, Kenya Railways Managing Director Philip Mainga told The Standard that all construction works has been completed.

“We have successfully completed the rehabilitation of the Western Kenya line and our aim is to introduce a rail services before the end of the year,” said Mainga.

Early this year, the authority had stated that they were optimistic that transport services would have been reintroduced by November this year.