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KRC switches Kisumu, Nairobi train to night travel on low demand

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Passengers alight at Kisumu Railways Station. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Kenya Railways Corporation will now ferry passengers on the Nairobi-Kisumu route at night on reduced passenger demand during the day.

The corporation, which resumed passenger trains on the route in December 2021, said it would shift its operations to night trains from June 10.

The shift to night operations, the Kenya Railways said, is mainly on passengers’ requests since the majority prefer night travel. The train will make stops at stations along the route, including Kikuyu, Naivasha, Nakuru, Njoro, Elburgon, Turi, Molo, Mau Summit, Londiani and Kedowa.

Other stops added are Kipkelion, Tunnel, Fort Ternan, Koru, Muhoroni, Chemelil, Kibigori, Miwani, and Kibos.

“We listened to our customers and the general public and decided to make the change to meet their travel needs. The Kisumu train will now make the journey during the night,” said Kenya Railways managing director Philip Mainga on Wednesday.

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“We are also introducing more stops during the journey to ensure we cater for more customers along the way. Depending on the demand, we may also reintroduce the day train in due course.”

Mr Mainga said the train would depart Nairobi Central Station at 6:30 pm every Friday to arrive in Kisumu at 6:30 am.

On Sunday, it will make the return trip departing the new Kisumu station at 18:30pm to arrive in Nairobi at 06:35 am.

Passengers from Nairobi to Kisumu will pay Sh600 fare on second-class coaches and Sh2,000 on first class for the 12-hour journey. It will charge Sh300 from Nairobi to Nakuru for second-class coaches and Sh800 for first-class coaches.

The corporation will also charge Sh400 on economy seats from Nakuru to Kisumu and Sh1,200 on first-class coaches. “We are currently working out a tariff for the other stops we have introduced,’’ he said.

Passengers travelling by night standard gauge railway (SGR) service from Mombasa to Nairobi will connect to the Kisumu train in the capital city.

The seamless service comes more than a decade after the company stopped operating passenger trains to western Kenya due to the dilapidated state of the railway line.

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Kenya dropped its plan to extend the SGR to Kisumu and later on to the Ugandan border after failing to secure a multibillion-shilling loan from China, which funded the first and second phases of the project.

The old meter-gauge line, which had a thriving passenger service in the 1990s, will form the major supply route to deliver cargo to the neighbouring countries through the Kisumu port.

Plans to upgrade it came after Uganda also announced that it would start refurbishing the old rail network to boost bulk cargo transportation, after failing to secure $2.2 billion in Chinese funding for a new SGR line.

A cargo rail business is critical to making the Kisumu port a viable public investment.

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