The Kenya Railways Corporation (KRC) has promised residents of the Nairobi metropolitan area hourly rides on the upgraded Nairobi Commuter Rail Service (NCRS) after six more Diesel Multiple Units (DMUs) arrived in the country from Spain.
KRC now boasts a fleet of 11 second-hand DMUs following the previous acquisition of six which were launched in 2020. Kenya Railways Corporation (KRC) chairman Omudho Awitta confirmed that the frequency of rides on the commuter rail service would increase significantly, with the government backing the plan to have the NCRS handle 60 million passengers annually in Phase 1.
Currently, the DMUs have been operating on routes including Syokimau-Nairobi and Embakasi-Nairobi, which offer five and three rides a day respectively. The new trains will complement operations on routes including Nairobi-Embakasi, Nairobi-Ruiru, Nairobi-Kikuyu and Nairobi-Syokimau.
“The six batch of DMU’s have arrived in the country from Spain. We will now have trains running every hour across the Nairobi metropolitan area,” Awitta stated.
It remains to be seen how effectively the new rides will be rolled out, but many commuters will definitely be watching on keenly.
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Currently, the rail service remains inaccessible for most residents while in areas such as Syokimau and Embakasi, many use other means including matatus and private cars due to the low frequency of rides. There have also been a number of occasional challenges reported including lengthy stoppages due to technical problems.
The DMUs from Mallorca, Spain were acquired by Kenya after the town upgraded to an electric network.
The KRC, however, has been slowly implementing its master plan in a bid to attract more commuters. It aims to build new stations in areas including Buru Buru, Pipeline, Umoja, Githurai, Donholm and expand services to outskirts and satellite towns including Ongata Rongai, Kiserian, Ngong, Kiambu, Ruai and Kangemi as well as Thika, Limuru and Lukenya.
Earlier this year, it introduced the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) express service between Nairobi and the airport.
The rail service is hoped to play a major role in decongesting the city, which is consistently ranked among cities losing the most time and money in lengthy traffic jams.