Nairobi residents living along Thika Road will soon have the option of skipping the highway's crippling traffic jams after Kenya Railways (KR) announced it will from Monday (April 16) start commuter train services to the city centre.
In a statement to the public, the State firm said the move will help ease congestion at bus stations and along major roads leading in and out of Nairobi’s central business district (CBD).
“As part of the ongoing efforts by the government to de-congest the Nairobi CBD, we shall introduce a new commuter train service to ply the Kahawa-Nairobi Route,” it said Tuesday.
The train will leave Kahawa at 9 a.m. to arrive in the city centre at 10.20 a.m. Those leaving Nairobi for Kahawa will catch their train at 7.40 a.m. to arrive at their destination at 8.40 a.m.
The service, however, offers little respite to Thika Road's early morning commuters to town as many residents report to their work stations between 6 and 9 a.m. Parts of the superhighway are often plagued by incessant traffic jams during these hours.
The new Kahawa route has also necessitated an adjustment in time schedules for the Kikuyu-Nairobi train which will now start its journey at 6 a.m. from Kikuyu to arrive in Nairobi at 7.20 a.m.
The development comes barely a week after the government began marking a dedicated Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) lane for large capacity buses along Thika Road as it tries to de-congest the key route.
The State has also introduced National Youth Service (NYS) buses along several routes in the capital, to the chagrin of matatu operators who fear that expansion of the project could soon put them out of business.
Kenya Railways also runs commuter train services for Syokimau, Embakasi and Ruiru areas.
Additionally, it oversees a parallel Inter-county express and inter-city train service between Nairobi and Mombasa where travellers currently pay Sh700 for the 472 kilometre journey route that will soon be raised to Sh1,000 starting May 1 for economy class.
The luxury (first) class tickets will continue to retail at Sh3,000.