Kenya Railways (KR) has refurbished 40 coaches which are expected to become operational next month as it moves to revamp the commuter service for the Nairobi Commuter Railways.
On Monday, Kenya Railway managing director Philip Maingi told 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.
The State agency said the coaches were refurbished locally but did not disclose how much the works cost. Currently, the Ruiru-Nairobi railway route is served by 20 coaches.
“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.
Kenya Railways is on an ambitious plan to grow commuter numbers from the current 300,000 passengers monthly in Nairobi to two million over the next two years.
"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.
The move is expected to ease congestion on the Thika superhighway and drastically reduce travel times for workers who live on the railway route. A trip from Ruiru to Nairobi will cost Sh50 by train.