Residents of Kitengela town will start enjoying commuter train services in the next one year following Monday’s launch of a road that will be used to move passengers to a new train station on the old Athi River – Kajiado railway line for onward commute to Nairobi.
The Kitengela commuter train will use the old meter gauge railway line to move passengers to the Syokimau Railway Station near the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport onward to the Central Nairobi Railway terminus.
Opening of the Kitengela railway commute is aimed at discouraging residents of the town, located South of Nairobi, from driving their own cars into the capital and ultimately ease traffic congestion on Nairobi’s Mombasa Road.
The national government is financing the project under the Nairobi Metropolitan Services Improvement Plan (NaMSIP), in conjunction with the county government of Kajiado and the World Bank.
Kitengela passengers will be using the link road to the proposed train station located on the southern end of the town where motorists will also leave their cars at the parking lot and board the train to Nairobi. The Kitengela commuter train, like other commuter trains serving Nairobi and its environs, will run on the old meter gauge line.
Transport and Infrastructure principal secretary Charles Hinga, who launched construction of the link road, said Kitengela’s ever growing population needs affordable and convenient means of transport to Nairobi.
The two-lane link road is estimated to cost Sh196 million.
Mr Hinga said the Cabinet approved the Kitengela modern railway station two weeks ago to ease commuters’ agony and boost trade in the populous town.
“Once the modern railway station is complete, Kitengela residents will be served by a commuter train to Nairobi after every 30 minutes, a move we expect to open up the town for more business opportunities,” Mr Hinga said.
On average, 300,000 people are known to commute daily between Kitengela and Nairobi for work or business.
Public service vehicles serving Kitengela currently charge Sh100 for the 25-kilometre journey to Nairobi during rush hours but the fares can go as high as Sh200 whenever it rains.
Most commuters are optimistic that the train will ease the transport headache in the booming township by breaking the current matatu monopoly.
Titus Ndei, who lives in Kitengela and operates a spare parts shop on Nairobi’s Kirinyaga Road, said a commuter train was long overdue as it bears the potential of cutting the fares by up to half to Sh50.
“Kitengela is the bedroom for most Nairobi workers and traders but has over the years suffered use of a single mode of transport. A commuter train is therefore a welcome addition to the mix,” Mr Ndei said.
Kajiado Governor Joseph ole Lenku described the commuter train as bearing the potential to open up the dusty town and make it a regional business hub.
He said his administration was committed to improving the business environment for traders even as he welcomed the partnership between his county and the national government.