Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has flagged off the maiden freight and passenger trains on the 472.3km Standard Gauge Railway from Nairobi to Mombasa.

The inaugural freight train left the port of Mombasa on the evening of May 30, arriving in Nairobi the following morning. The first passenger train was flagged off from the new Mombasa Terminus station on May 31.

The passenger service has been dubbed Madaraka Express, and each train will seat up to 960 passengers with a Mombasa – Nairobi fare of Kenyan Shs700 (US $ 6.77) in standard class and shillings 3000 in first.

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The line has been designed with an axle load of 25 tonnes and could move 22 million tonnes/year at a speed of 80-100 kilometer per hour for freight trains and 120 kilometer per hour for passenger trains. Freight trains will have a maximum capacity of 4000 tonnes, or 216 TEUs, and the line has been built to accommodate double-stack container trains.

The line is forecast to carry around 22 million tonnes of freight per year from Mombasa, representing 40 per cent of the port’s throughput. Kenyatta said the line will reduce the cost of moving a container between Mombasa and Nairobi from US $960 to US $480.

The Exim Bank of China provided 90 per cent of the financing required for the US $3.42 billion railway, which was constructed by China Road and Bridge Corporation.


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