Kenya Railways Corporation

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Kenya Railways Corporation
Government-owned corporation
Industry Public Transport
Predecessor KURH (1929)
EARC (1948)
Founded 1977
Headquarters Nairobi, Nairobi County
Products Railway and Commuter rail transportation
Kenya Railways (KR)
Infrastructure company Kenya Railways (KR)
System length
Total 2,066 kilometres (1,284 mi)
Track gauge
Main 1,000 mm (3 ft 3 38 in)
No. stations 180 approx

Kenya Railways Corporation (KRC), also Kenya Railways (KR) is the national railway of Kenya. Established in 1977, KR is a state corporation.


The original Uganda Railway was transformed into the East African Railways and Harbours Corporation (EARC) after World War I. The EARC managed the railways of Uganda, Kenya, and Tanganyika until the collapse of the East African Community in 1977.[1] Subsequently KR took over the Kenyan part of the EARC.


A Kenya Railways GE U26C type locomotive

Like the other members of the EAC Kenya utilizes the narrow gauge track gauge of 1,000 mm (3 ft 3 38 in) (metre gauge). The reason was that when the British started the railway construction in 1896 they utilized material and workers from India. The Indian gauge and rolling stock was 1,000 mm (3 ft 3 38 in).

The mainline of the KR is based on the original Uganda Railway. Its 930 km (578 mi) main track connected the Indian Ocean port of Mombasa to the port of Kisumu at Lake Victoria. Half way is the capital of Nairobi that was founded as a rail depot of the UR. The British added several branch lines as well as a link to Tanzania and a link to Uganda - the total system eventually had 2,778 km (1,726 mi) of track.

As of 2006 much of the overall railway system has been neglected or is in disrepair.[2] Nevertheless, the mainline from Mombasa to Kisumu is operative though at reduced speed. For passengers, the "Jumbo Kenya Deluxe" connects Nairobi and Mombasa. The fourteen-hour overnight trip runs three times a week either eastbound or westbound on the single track. The "Port Florence Express" connects Nairobi with Kisumu.[3]

The Nairobi - Mombasa overnight train with Kilimanjaro on the horizon.

KR also operates the Kenyan ferry system on Lake Victoria.

In 2010, KRX announced plans to construct a new station on Mombasa Road in Nairobi; part of a planned commuter network which would include an airport link.[4]

Future Expansion[edit]

Kisumu Line

In 2012, plans were being developed to expand the system with a new railway that connects to other countries, namely Uganda, Rwanda, and possibly South Sudan and Ethiopia.[5] The new railway would be 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) gauge.[6] Kenya had been negotiating with China to reconstruct the Nairobi-Mombasa section first.[7] Construction of the first phase of the planned 2 937 km $13.5bn line was inaugurated in Mombasa on 28 November 2013.[8]

MoKaKi railway[edit]

The project will connect Mombasa via Kampala to Kigali, hence MoKaKi. President Uhuru Kenyatta presided over the groundbreaking ceremony for the standard gauge railway in November 2013.[9] The whole project is expected to cost Ksh 1.3T (327b from Msa to Nrb a distance of 609 km including locomotives). However the project has been riddled with corruption allegations, overpricing, and ignoring of procurement processes. Nandi MP Alfred Keter has been at the forefront on the corruption allegations that caused the Parliamentary committee of investment and transport to investigate the project.[10] However Keter has been claimed to have been hired as a mouthpiece by a prominent investor to fight the project.

First Phase[edit]

The first phase will be between Nairobi and Mombasa a distance of 609 km will be built by China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) .[11] The project will cost Sh327 billion, but it was later increased to Sh 420 billion to allow it source for locomotives and wagons as well. The estimated cost will be $2.9m per km.[12] The $3.8 billion deal was signed in May, 2012 in Nairobi by visiting Chinese premier Li Keqiang, along with the presidents of Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan and Uganda. The Exim Bank of China will provide 90% of the funds for the phase-one project, with Kenya providing the remainder. Once the first phase is completed, expected to be in 2017, there are plans to extend the standard-gauge line to Kampala, Kigali, Bujumbura and Juba.[13] By May 2015, construction was underway.[14]


The LAPSSET railway project is a railway that is proposed to connect Kenya, Ethiopia, and South Sudan. It will be built from Lamu in Kenya to Juba and Addis Ababa.



Although KR has been an economic lifeline, it has been plagued by safety issues. Derailments are common. The maximum speed of trains on the railway is 30 mph or 48.3 km/h. Notable accidents include these:

  • In 1993 (30 January), 114 perished in a Mombasa-bound passenger train which plunged into a river after floods washed away a bridge at Ngai Ndethya (Kikuyu for "God Help Me".)
  • In 1999, 32 died at Tsavo National Park when brakes on a passenger train failed, making it derail.
  • In 2000, 13 died near Kisumu after a passenger train rolled backwards due to failed brakes.
  • In 2000, at least 25 were burnt to death after a freight train carrying gas exploded.
  • On the morning of 16 October 2005, a matatu (taxi minibus) was struck by a passenger train near Kisumu. Six people died and 23 more were injured.
  • In November 2013, a passenger train rammed into a public service vehicle at Mutindwa, Umoja, in Nairobi. Twelve people died.

2006 Management change[edit]

The KR has suffered from inefficient management, has a bloated work force, and has run deficit operations in spite of its potential.[16] For several years there had been plans to privatize and revitalize the system.[17] In 2005, Rift Valley Railways Consortium (RVRC) from South Africa won the concession to run KR and Uganda Railways Corporation.[18] RVRC was to take over operations on 1 August 2006 and intends to stream line operations, reduce the work force, and make major investments to upgrade the system.[19][20] On 28 July 2006 the East African Standard reported that the planned take-over was postponed to 1 November 2006.[21] This operational take-over took place in November and is scheduled to last for 25 years.[22]

On 9 October 2008, Toll Holdings of Australia announced that it has entered into a contract to manage the Kenya-Uganda railway, replacing the management by Rift Valley Railways Consortium. The consortium has been criticized for falling freight traffic in the two years since taking control, while RVR alleges the drop is due to the poor condition of the railway infrastructure and the damage done by protesters during the 2007–2008 Kenyan crisis. Officers from Toll subsidiary Patrick Defence Logistics were to manage the railway after the transition.[23]

Towards the end of 2008, after just a few months in charge, Toll pulled out of its management obligations after disagreements with the owners and the Toll appointed MD resigned, mirroring a similar reversal of appetite that occurred when Toll took over Tranz Rail (New Zealand's privatised rail operator) in 2003.

2008 riots[edit]

During the riots of the 2007–2008 Kenyan crisis sections of railway were destroyed. As a result, shipments to Uganda were suspended.[24]

Main stations[edit]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]