The revamped Nairobi Commuter Rail Service (NCRS) has got Kenyans talking after new trains were spotted snaking their way through several estates in Nairobi.
Kenya Railways (KR) announced that it had partnered with the Nairobi Metropolitan Service (NMS). The news came just a day after matatu issued a nationwide strike notice.
In the new deal signed between KR and NMS, Nairobi commuters will board the new trains from various railway stations which are linked to the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system.
"With a single ticket, you will get to hop out of the Diesel Mobile Unit (DMU) at Nairobi Central Rail Station and into the Nairobi commuter rail bus to your destination," reads an excerpt from a statement sent out by the Kenya Railways.
The DMU units have already started ferrying Nariobians to and from the city, with photos emerging showing the trains interior.
Questions have, however, been raised as passengers appeared to openly disregard social distancing rules inside the trains.
According to KR, the new DMU units will soon be able to ply all their routes thereby ensuring that all Nairobi county residents have access to the new system.
From an hourly commuter train service, to a complimentary rapid transport system, and a seamless non-motorised transport within the city centre, the government is quietly implementing these plans that are set to give the city’s chaotic transport system a facelift.
A city of about 4.4 million people, according to the last population census, Nairobi until now has had only a haphazard transport system, based on mostly private 14 and 32 seater matatus. This has resulted in pain and chaos for millions of commuters amid traffic gridlocks on key roads and highways.
The World Bank estimates that Nairobi residents on average spend an hour travel to work and another 60 minutes commuting back home due to traffic congestion.
The routes the DMUs will service will include the Nairobi Central Station to Syokimau, Embakasi Village, Ruiru, and Kikuyu. This will see the building of nine new stations which include Kenyatta University, Umoja, Kibera, Thogoto, Mbagathi Way, Thika, Kitengela, Dagoretti and Strathmore University.
NMS and KR have also partnered to ensure all walkways to and from railway stations are paved to ensure that the commuters don't step off the train only to wade through mud and water puddles, especially during the rainy season.