Kenya Railways, through the Nairobi Commuter Rail Service, on Monday commissioned operations for the new railway link from the city centre to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA).
Kenya Railways Managing Director Philip Maingi said passengers who will use the JKIA Express route will have to part with Sh500 for each train ride.
Transport CS James Macharia, while commissioning the new link, said air travellers will now avoid the traffic snarl-up on Mombasa road in a move that will see passengers dropped at the Embakasi Railway Station from where a courtesy bus will pick them and ferry them to JKIA.
“Commuters will be able to catch a train from the Nairobi Railway Station up to the Embakasi Village Railway Station after which they will then be ferried through the Airport South Road which has been dedicated to the Nairobi Commuter Rail Bus also referred to as the Bus Rapid Transit Vehicles,” the CS said.
Mr Macharia assured that security will be tight and travellers will go through a thorough security check at various points to access the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) buses heading to JKIA.
“Connecting the airport to CBD means the security must be intact. We inspected the stations to make sure the system is compliant with the highest level of security,” Mr Macharia said.
He added that the Nairobi Commuter Rail Service to JKIA journey will entail a ride on the new Diesel Multiple Units (DMU) undertaken in conjunction with the Kenya Airport Authority (KAA).
KAA is offering technical guidance on security matters and other issues to ensure all commuters from the Railway Station access the Airport efficiently
Other buses will be stationed at Embakasi Village Station to provide transport services to and from JKIA.
The launch of the JKIA Express Service follows the commissioning last month of the DMUs by President Uhuru Kenyatta, who assured that the rail track will be extended to the airport.
He assured the rail track would be extended to JKIA to provide air travelers with an alternative mode of transport to and from JKIA to avoid the traffic mess synonymous with Mombasa Road.
“While this extension is being constructed, high capacity buses will be stationed at Embakasi Village Station to provide direct transport services to and from the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport,” he said then.
The commuter rail, complemented by a BRT system, is expected to greatly reduce travel time between JKIA and the CBD and enable commuter train service at large to freely ship at least 500,000 urban commuters daily in the next 12 months.
The project is funded by the French government through an agreement signed by Mr Kenyatta and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron during the latter’s first ever visit to Kenya.