Kenya Standard Gauge Railway - Wikipedia

Kenya Standard Gauge Railway

The Kenya Standard Gauge Railway is a railway system that will connect Kenyan cities, and link the country to the neighboring country of Uganda, and through Uganda, to South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, and Burundi. There are also plans to link to Addis Ababa, in neighboring Ethiopia to the north. The first segment, between Mombasa and Nairobi, opened passenger rail service in June 2017, and freight rail service in January 2018. Other segments are under construction or planned. The new Standard Gauge Railway (SGR), is intended to replace the old, inefficient metre-gauge railway system.[1][2][3]

Kenya Standard Gauge Railway
TypeHeavy rail
StatusUnder construction
TerminiMombasa, Nairobi, Lamu, Nakuru
Kisumu, Malaba, Moyale, Nakodok, Lokichar
Operator(s)Kenya Railways Corporation
Line length3,800 km (2,400 mi)
Track gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge


The railway system consists of several major sections:

Mombasa–Nairobi Section

This section, measuring 609 kilometres (378 mi), is known as the Mombasa–Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway, and connects the port city of Mombasa and Nairobi, the capital and largest city of Kenya.[1] Passenger rail services between Mombasa and Nairobi started on 1 June 2017, and freight rail services on 1 January 2018.

It was built between October 2016 and January 2018, by China Road and Bridge Corporation, at a cost of US$3.6 billion, 90 percent of which was borrowed from the Exim Bank of China, with the Kenyan government providing the remaining 10 percent.[4]

Nairobi–Naivasha Section

This section was also contracted to the company that constructed the Mombasa–Nairobi Section. The line stretches from Nairobi to Naivasha, a distance of about 120 kilometres (75 mi), at cost of KSh150 billion (US$1.5 billion), borrowed from the China Export-Import Bank. Construction began in 2018 and is expected to conclude in December 2019.[5]

Naivasha–Kisumu Section

This section, measuring 267 kilometres (166 mi), stretching from Naivasha to Kisumu, on the eastern shores of Lake Victoria, is contracted to China Communications Construction Company, at a budgeted cost of KSh380 billion (US$3.8 billion), borrowed from China Exim Bank.[6] Loan papers between Kenya and China were scheduled for signatures in September 2018, but were deferred until a commercial viability study is conducted on the entire Mombasa–Kisumu railway.[7]

Kisumu–Malaba Section

This section, measuring approximately 130 kilometres (81 mi), takes the SGR line to the town of Malaba, at the international border with Uganda.[8] CCCC, is the contractor for this section as well. The contract price for this section is about US$1.69 billion (KSh169 billion). The price for the Naivasha–Kisumu–Malaba section is US$5.49 billion (KSh549 billion) and includes the laying of railway tracks in both sections, dredging and expansion of the port of Kisumu, and the expansion and modernization of the inland container depot at Embakasi, in Nairobi.[6]

Lamu–Lokichar-Nakodok Section
Map showing the scope of the LAPSSET Project within Kenya

This railway line, totaling 1,500 kilometres (932 mi), is a component of the Lamu Port and Lamu-Southern Sudan-Ethiopia Transport Corridor (LAPSSET) development project. Under the LAPSSET plan, this line would be extended to Juba in South Sudan.[9]

Nairobi–Moyale Section

This 700 kilometres (435 mi) section also falls under the LAPSSET program. It extends from Nairobi to Moyale, at the international border with Kenya's northern neighbor. It is planned to be extended to Addis Ababa, the capital city of Ethiopia.[10]

Naivasha–Lokichar Section

This proposed railway link, measuring an estimated 460 kilometres (286 mi),[11] would link the two main standard gauge railway systems in Kenya; the Mombasa–Malaba SGR System and the Lamu–Nakodok SGR System.[2]


This 1435 mm (4 ft ​8 12 in) railway line is intended to ease the transfer of goods and passengers between the port of Mombasa and the cities of Nairobi and Kisumu, in Kenya, Kampala in Uganda, Kigali in Rwanda and subsequently to Bujumbura in Burundi, Juba in South Sudan and to Goma and Bunia in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.[1][2][3]

In March 2019, during a state visit to Kenya, President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and his host, President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, jointly, publicly committed to extend the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) to Kampala via Malaba.[12]


The project alongside many other in Africa under Chinese Belt and Road Intiative (BRI) have been criticized as an effort by the government of China to debt-trap various nations.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c Moore, Jack (12 May 2014). "China Railway to Link Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan". International Business Times. New York City. Retrieved 17 September 2018.
  2. ^ a b c Kacungira, Nancy (8 June 2017). "Will Kenya get value for money from its new railway?". Nairobi: BBC Africa. Retrieved 17 September 2018.
  3. ^ a b Parke, Phoebe (15 May 2016). "Kenya's $13 billion railway project is taking shape". Cable News Network (CNN). Retrieved 18 September 2018.
  4. ^ Nation Reporter, and Presidential Security Communications Unit (PSCU) (11 May 2014). "Kenya, China sign standard gauge railway agreement". Daily Nation. Nairobi. Retrieved 17 September 2018.
  5. ^ Barasa, Lucas (9 July 2018). "Nairobi-Naivasha Standard Gauge Rail 70 Percent Done: Government". Business Daily Africa. Nairobi. Retrieved 17 September 2018.
  6. ^ a b Capital FM Reporter (17 August 2018). "Kenya to sign KSh380 billion loan with China for Naivasha – Kisumu SGR line". Nairobi: 98.4 Capital FM. Retrieved 17 September 2018.
  7. ^ Andeso, Albert (9 September 2018). "China declines to sign Sh380bn loan for Naivasha-Kisumu railway". Nairobi: Retrieved 17 September 2018.
  8. ^ (17 September 2018). "Distance between Kisumu, Kenya and Malaba, Kenya". Retrieved 17 September 2018.
  9. ^ Kenya's Ministry of Trade (December 2012). "Kenya Vision 2030: Lamu Port and New Transport Corridor Development to Southern Sudan and Ethiopia (LAPSSET)" (PDF). Kenya's Trade Mission To Greece. Retrieved 18 September 2018.
  10. ^ Kagwanja, Peter (3 June 2017). "Rail strategy has potential to revolutionise development". Daily Nation. Nairobi. Retrieved 18 September 2018.
  11. ^ (18 September 2018). "Distance between Naivasha, Kenya and Lokichar, Kenya". Retrieved 18 September 2018.
  12. ^ Olingo, Allan (27 March 2019). "Museveni, Uhuru close ranks on extension of SGR to Uganda border". Business Daily Africa. Retrieved 1 April 2019.

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