Train breakdowns haunt Kenya Railways after RVR handover

Kenya Railways Corporation managing director Atanas Maina. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Kenya Railways Corporation managing director Atanas Maina. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The breakdowns that frequently bogged down the Rift Valley Railways (RVR) have returned to haunt the State operator five months after it took back its assets from the Egyptian firm.

On Tuesday, hundreds of commuters to Embakasi arrived home late after their train stalled. The train broke down for about two hours at Tumaini estate on Outer Ring Road at 6pm, forcing commuters to disembark and seek alternative means of transport.

Poor maintenance of tracks and equipment was one of the reasons Kenya Railways took back its assets from RVR on September 1 last year.

On Wednesday, the Kenya Railways Corporation managing director Atanas Maina downplayed the breakdown as a simple hitch saying the agency was keen on line maintenance and ensuring trains are in good condition.

“The Embakasi Railway Station is currently being renovated to offer better services,” said Mr Maina.

The cheaper commuter train leaves Nairobi at 6pm before making stops at Donholm and Makadara to pick passengers.

It charges Sh40 per passenger and has 10 coaches carrying between 150-170 passengers per trip.

“I am a bit disappointed because this train breakdowns at least twice a month. Kenya Railways should move with speed and replace this old engines once and for all,” said James Githaiga, a frequent commuter.

Mr Githaiga who has been using the train for the last 10 years blamed Kenya Railways for doing little to ensure efficient service on the metre gauge track.

He faulted the corporation for failing to inform passengers promptly every time the train stalls mid-way.

Last month, the Nairobi commuter train revised its evening schedule on the Embakasi, Kikuyu and Ruiru routes to boost passenger numbers.

Under these changes, the train heading to Embakasi has been leaving Nairobi’s Central Business District (CBD) at 6pm as opposed to 6:05pm before.

On the other hand, the train heading to Kikuyu from the city centre has been leaving at 5:35pm instead of 5:40 pm as earlier scheduled.