KENYA plans to spend Shillings 32bn ($US 297.2m) through the National Treasury’s 2021-22 budget to upgrade its railway network next year, as the country looks to attract more passengers and freight to rail.

Shillings 27.2bn has been allocated to the Nairobi - Naivasha standard gauge railway (SGR), Construction Kenya reports, with the remainder allocated to upgrade the country’s metre gauge railway (MGR) network.

This includes Shillings 2bn for the line from Longonot to the Naivasha Inland Container Depot (ICD), which connects the Nairobi - Naivasha SGR and the metre gauge network, and the restoration of the Longonot - Malaba line. Another Shillings 700m has been allocated for the rehabilitation of the Nakuru - Kisumu MGR line. The two projects will support freight and passenger services from Nairobi to western Kenya, with freight trains currently transferring to road at the Naivasha ICD.

Kenya Railways is refurbishing 31 locomotives to increase capacity in preparation for operations on the Longonot - Malaba MGR section and the Nakuru - Kisumu MGR branch line. This includes rehabilitating nine locomotives while another 22 are being overhauled under a partnership between the railway and the Kenya Defence Forces.

The Nairobi commuter network will also benefit from funding included in the budget. The government will spend Shillings 450m in 2021-22 to build a new line between Nairobi Embakasi SGR station and Ruai to serve more commuters and enhance service delivery.

Another line will be built between Athi River station and the East African Portland Cement facility with Shillings 400m allocated, with a third line to be built between Athi River station and NSSF Mavoko with an allocation of Shillings 450m.

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