As Kenya Vision 2030 is being implemented in successive phases, one of the key areas of focus is “Transport and Infrastructure Development” and in particular “Rail” which is a vital service to global society and the transport backbone of a sustainable economy. By doing so, Rail will be able to respond to the expected growth in transport demand, both passenger and freight. We discuss the Standard Gauge Railway Development.


Due to the existing challenges in the transport corridor in Kenya and East Africa it was deemed necessary to construct a Standard Gauge Railways connecting all East Africa Countries (East Africa Master Plan).

In view of the above, Kenya is in progress of implementing a Standard Gauge Railway Network which comprises of two corridors namely, Northern Corridor and Lapset Corridor with the following objectives:

  • Reduction of transportation cost in the country and East Africa region making Kenya an attractive investment destination and competitive in the region;
  • Acceleration of industrialization through easier and cheaper transportation, and establishment of new industries to service the new railway;
  • Increased annual GDP growth which is estimated to be at a minimum of 1.5% during the construction and operation phases;
  • Reduction in cargo load congestion at the Port of Mombasa through enhanced and more efficient transport system. This will be a more attractive and preferred port of choice coastal facility in the region;
  • Reduction in wear and tear of Kenya roads and associated repair and maintenance costs;
  • Reduction in road travel time between Mombasa, Nairobi and Malaba;
  • Enhanced prospects for development of a free port and Export Processing Zones, and Industrial Parks along the railway line;

Creation of employment and business opportunities during construction and operation phases.

Achievements so far:

Mombasa – Nairobi SGR Project (Dubbed Phase 1) commenced on 12th December 2014 and was completed and commissioned on 30th May 2017. Both passenger and Freight Operations are ongoing.

Nairobi Inland Container Depot (NICD). It’s main objective was to increase the efficiency of the Mombasa – Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) freight operations and decongestion of the port of Mombasa. The expected increase in output capacity at the ICD is from the current 180,000 TEU’s/year to 405,000 TEU’s/year, hence complementing the SGR in decongesting the port of Mombasa. The project commenced on 1st May 2016 and was completed and commissioned on December 2017. Freight Operations are ongoing.

Naivasha – Nairobi SGR Project (Dubbed Phase 2A) is part of the Nairobi – Malaba SGR phase. It commenced on 19th October 2016 and is scheduled for completion and commissioning on 31st May 2019. Progress stands at 68%.

With the ongoing implementation of the SGR network in Kenya, it has presented opportunities both short and long term, in addition there has been lessons learnt during implementation phases.


One of the main objectives of the SGR was to reduce cargo load congestion at the Port of Mombasa through enhanced and more efficient transport system. 

Currently the Port throughput stands at 28,721,000 Tonnes/year with a growth rate of 0.1% per annum (assumption). With a modal share of 70% the SGR is expected to ferry 22 million Tonnes/year by year 2022 as shown in the table below:

Year 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
Growth rate % 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 2.9
Port throughput (000) tonnes 28,021 28,721 29,468 30,264 31,111 32,013
Modal share 30% 8,406 8,616 8,840 9,079 9,333 9,604
Modal share 40% 11,208 11,489 11,787 12,105 12,444 12,805
Modal share 50% 14,010 14,361 14,734 15,132 15,556 16,007
Modal share 60% 16,812 17,233 17,681 18,158 18,667 19,208
Modal share 70% 19,615 20,105 20,628 21,185 21,778 22,409


For efficiency and ensuring the projected volumes are achieved, SGR has:

Extended a line through the port (Port Relief Line) which is under construction, the line starts from Port Reitz (Berth 19) and terminates at Berth 1 (currently 98% complete). Once commissioned, operations will commence thereafter hence quick evacuation of both bulk and loose cargo from the port.

Purchased and supplied:

43no. freight locomotives with a trailing load of 2000 Tonnes each.

8no. shunting/marshaling locomotives (positioned at port relief line, port Reitz station and Nairobi Freight Terminus).

1620no. freight wagon which comprises of Flat container wagons, Double stack wagons, Open top wagons for bulk cargo and Box wagons for loose cargo.

9no. RMGs with a handling capacity of 40 Tonnes. (Positioned at Port Reitz station, Mombasa Freight Terminus and Nairobi Freight Terminus).

Constructed freight handling stations for loose cargo between Mombasa and Nairobi (at Mariakani, Voi, Mtito Andei, Kibwezi, Emali and Athi River).

Expanded Nairobi ICD yard from the current 180,000 TEU’s/year to 405,000 TEU’s/year.

Agreement between KR and KPA for gradual buildup and increment of load i.e. freight trains have gradually increased from 30no. January 2018 to 334no. June 2018.

Freight operations achievements:

Freight operations (containerized cargo) commenced on 1st January 2018 and as at end of June 2018 a total of 954,066 Tonnes had been achieved; 55,661 TEUs (Upward direction) and 5,398 TEUs (Downwards direction) as shown in the table below: 


Duration (Months) Number of Trains/



Loaded containers

Empty containers    
TEUs Weight (t) TEUs TEUs Weight (t)
January 2018 30 964 16,581 316 442 5,764
February 2018 72 2,842 47,135 526 610 10,498
March 2018 185 9,134 140,820 1,211 1,183 23,434
April 2018 239 12,344 184,486 1,146 2,220 24,090
May 2018 254 13,149 196,051 1,175 5,819 32,749
June 2018 334 17,228 247,634 1,024 5,116 24,824
GRAND TOTAL   55,661 832,707 5,398 15,390 121,359


Bulk and loose cargo operations will commence once Port Relief Line is commissioned.


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