Railway City will create captivating fusion of travel, business and leisure

Kenya Railways Managing Director Philip Mainga before the Committee on Commercial Affairs and Energy on March 15, 2023. [Elvis Ogina, Standard] 

The Nairobi Central Business District is poised to undergo a major transport and infrastructural revolution.

Just like a century ago, when the city was founded as a railway depot and staff quarters for the advancing “lunatic express” railway construction workers, the railway is once again at the heart of this revolution through the Nairobi Railway City project.

This climate resilient multi-modal urban development project, the first of its kind in Africa, is set to provide seamless integration to the city’s transport modes through an expanded Central Station, new Bus Rapid Transit lines and stations as well as a revamped matatu termini that will allow the city’s residents clear transit pathways in and out of the CBD.

Inspired by famed railway cities around the world such as London's Kings Cross Station, the Nairobi Railway City will undoubtably create a captivating fusion of travel, business and leisure.

The Nairobi Railway City project by Kenya Railways was first mooted at the UK-Africa Investment Summit, London in 2020 and its ground-breaking ceremony was graced by President William Ruto on December 7, 2022. It is among the first mover infrastructure projects in Kenya that the government hopes to finance through the UK’s Export Finance agency.

Other interconnected projects in this programme include, amongst others, affordable housing, student accommodation, a new commercial precinct, a new JKIA rail-link line, Nairobi commuter rail stations and pedestrian bridges, Riruta-Ngong, Embakasi-Utawala commuter lines. The project will occupy 435-acre tract of land bounded by Haile Selassie Avenue, Uhuru Highway, Landhies Road, and Bunyala Road and is expected to spur social-economic growth of this area.

The Nairobi Railway City project is anticipated to deliver significant economic benefits, culminating in its completion by 2030. The project is set to generate approximately 10,000 direct employment opportunities throughout its implementation, in addition to numerous indirect job prospects.

The project will also showcase Nairobi’s growing global reputation as a gateway to Kenya and a leading modern climate-smart city that can generate social benefits and economic returns. Moreover, the project will undeniably spur growth in auxiliary sectors in the project’s supply chain such as manufacturing, energy, transport and construction sectors.

Upon completion, the project is expected to generate more revenue for Kenya Railways and help decongest the city by providing additional transit options.

It will also create numerous opportunities for Micro and Small Medium Enterprises to carry out trade within the newly established retail and commercial spaces in the public realm and Non-Motorised Transport corridors. In addition to these advantages, the project will provide access to various wellness and recreation facilities within Nairobi Railway City, allowing them to conduct business and relax.

The design of the first project in the scheme, a new central station and public realm will integrate climate resilient design and building technology into its construction.

This will include nature based solutions that help scrub the air that enters the station, the use of solar panelling on the station roof to provide energy for lighting, the installation of water recycling tanks to store and reuse rainwater that will be used to feed the green space in and around the station and innovative building design that eliminates the need for air conditioning which is better for the environment and saves money.

Kenya Railways has already commenced the early works of the project which covers the construction of a pedestrian footbridge across the Nairobi Railway yard, as well as the design of a new Nairobi Central Railway Station and a public square.