Construction of the Mombasa-Nairobi standard gauge railway (SGR) is over 75 per cent complete, with the project expected to be done by December.
According to Transport PS Irungu Nyakera, more than 75 per cent of civil works have been accomplished on the first phase of the Sh420 billion project, with over 235kms of track-line having been laid between Voi and Emali.
Mr Nyakera told journalists in Nairobi on Thursday that some 33 stations had already been built – including 23 passing stations, eight intermediary stations and two major stations in Mombasa and Nairobi.
The PS said the first batch of trains to run on the new railway will arrive in the country by December with test runs scheduled to begin early next year.
“The government expects the project to reduce freight costs from $0.20 per tonne/km to $0.08 per tonne/km. It will also increase cargo train speeds up to 80kms/hr and passenger trains at 120km/hr. Essentially, the rail trip from Mombasa to Nairobi will take only four hours,’’ Mr Nyakera said.
The new rail line will run parallel to the existing metre gauge railway but will deviate as appropriate in order to achieve the desired gradient and curvature.
The project is 85 per cent funded by the China Exim Bank, with the Kenyan government financing the remaining 15 per cent.
The Mombasa-Nairobi standard gauge railway is expected to be extended to Malaba, western Kenya, into Uganda and ultimately to Kigali in Rwanda.