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PS defends Kenya buying Sh1.5 b second-hand commuter trains from Spain

Housing and Urban Development Principal Secretary Charles Hinga has defended a decision by the government to import 11 old Spanish trains, saying they are much cheaper and that the country will be getting two for the price of one.

On Monday, Kenya inked a deal to acquire 11 second-hand commuter trains from Spain for about Sh1.5 billion.

The agreement was signed in Mallorca, Spain by the Kenya Railways Managing Director Philip Mainga and officials from Regional Ministry of Energy and Mobility in Mallorca.

According to the PS, Kenya is currently operating trains that are more than 40 years old, that don’t have multiple head units so you have to remove the head to turn.

“So this is a positive step in the right direction. Once we increase ridership we shall attract investments to buy new ones,” he said.

The purchase of the Diesel Multiple Units (DMUs) is part of the government’s plan to decongest Nairobi city.

“The journey to decongest Nairobi has just begun,” said PS Hinga.

He said that there will be no new rail tracks for this phase. The solid lines exist with the broken line to be extended.


The ageing trains, five coaches and spare parts will cost taxpayers Sh1.15 billion. The parastatal says each train has a lifespan of an extra 23-25 years.

KR adds that their purchase will necessitate the building of nine new stations, namely: Kenyatta University, Umoja, Kibera, Thogoto, Mbagathi Way, Kitengela, Dagoretti and Strathmore University.

In the master plan to decongest the city, KR says the commuter railway network is up for rehabilitation with new lines mentioned above set to be added onto the 150km stretch of rail.

If acquired, the new trains will be deployed to Nairobi Central Station, Syokimau, Embakasi Village, Thika, Kikuyu and Kitengela.

“They should serve us for another 20 – 25 years. When the full complement is in, they will enable us to transport around 132,000 people a day compared to the 13,000 we do today,” former Transort PS Esther Koimett said.

The decision to import the old train was reached after Cabinet meeting on December 5 last year in which then Treasury Secretary Henry Rotich was instructed to allocate Sh10 billion for the project.

The rushed plan raised suspicions on just how they are going to operate given findings of a report that question their low capacity, weaker engines and in Nairobi’s single-track railway system.

While assuring the public of the efficiency of the trains which are expected in the country from June, KR says the original manufacturer in Spain will recondition them.