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 Shillings 700 ($US 6.77) in standard class and Shillings 3000 in first.

The line has been designed with an axleload of 25 tonnes and could move 22 million tonnes/year at a speed of 80-100km/h for freight trains and 120km/h 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% 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% of the financing required for the $US 3.42bn railway, which was constructed by China Road and Bridge Corporation.

A full description of the project can be viewed here.