Kenya Railways has bought seven passenger locomotives to be used between Nairobi and Kisumu as the parastatal seeks to increase frequencies to three on the route and extend commuter services to Butere.
The company says the trains, which have been procured from China, will arrive in Kenya at the end of next month. The cost of the locomotives was not revealed.
The locomotives will come as a boost to the recently rehabilitated metre gauge railway that has seen Kenya Railways introduce train to Kisumu once weekly.
Kenya railways regional manager for Kisumu Michael Disi sayid there has been an increase in demand for passengers on the route, hence the need to increase the frequencies.
“The seven passenger locomotives that we have procured from China are almost complete and we shall receive them by the end of March and we intend to start using them in April.”
“The purchase of the locomotives has been necessitated by the demonstrated increase of passengers from the two regions who are willing to use the railway line,” said Mr Disi.
The train has so far ferried over 2,000 passengers since it started operations last year in December.
He said an increase in frequencies on the route will be convenient to passengers as they can now plan their trips accordingly as opposed to the current single train that plies the route on Friday from Nairobi.
“We shall be having two trains on the line, when one is departing Nairobi, another one is leaving Kisumu. These trains will ensure that passengers can travel at night from Kisumu to Nairobi and return in the evening after finishing their business,” said the official.
The Kisumu Railway Station was recently constructed after the government reclaimed land from artisans and fishmongers. The small traders will be moved to the 17-acre Uhuru Business Park market complex that is yet to be commissioned.
The extension of the Kisumu-Butere route will come as a major boost to passengers travelling to regions like Mumias as they will enjoy the convenience of the train. The route, according to Mr Ndisi, is 90 percent complete.
Government spokesperson Cyrus Oguna said the upgrade of the railway and port transport is expected to benefit and expand other sectors of the economy such as tourism in the western circuit.
“The transformation of the Nairobi-Kisumu train is a game-changer as far as the development of the region is concerned and will play a significant role in boosting tourism on the western circuit,” said Rtd Col Oguna.