Nairobi Commuter Railway (NCR) is a rail service that connects the Nairobi Central Business District with suburbs and settlements out of the city. The rail service plays a major role in the public transport system.
Currently, there are five (5) daily train services that ferry passengers to and from Nairobi CBD both in the morning and evening. Of the five services, one is a link train to the SGR Terminus in Syokimau.
Many city residents still prefer using other public means of transport like buses but those who have used the trains once seem to never go back to the buses.
Although it has a few challenges, traveling by trains in Nairobi has more advantages over other means of transport.
The Nairobi Railway Station
Nairobi Railways Station is located next to the busy Railways Bus Station. Some of the nearby attractions include; Nairobi Railway Museum, the “railway graveyard” – where the old train wagons and coaches are parked – and the August 7 Memorial Park (Bomb Blast).
The station is centrally located for easy access by passengers. It has a restaurant, a spacious waiting area, and amenities such as washrooms and seats.
Why you should use the Trains
Affordable: The trains fare is between Kshs 35 and Kshs 60 for all the routes.
Reliable: The service is more reliable than the rest – No traffic jam, no fare hike, no queue, and the trains leave exactly on time.
Scenic: One thing I love about the train rides is the scenery. The open windows give you a great morning and evening view of Nairobi. Along the way, you get to see the settlements, people and landscape of the city outskirts.
Comfort: Unlike most Matatus, the trains are comfortable. There is enough space for movement and less noise – safe for the track rail music.
Safe: The trains are reasonably safe compared to other means of transport in the city.
Networking: I find passengers in a train more interactive than commuters in Matatus.
Calm: If you want to have a calm moment for retrospect and be peaceful after a long day at work, just take a train ride home.
Challenges with Nairobi Commuter Trains
Just like other means, the Nairobi Commuter Railway has its own challenges. The most notable ones include;
Mechanical failure: Sometimes the locomotives may experience mechanical failures due to old age and bad weather.
Timing: The trains run only in the mornings and evenings. This might not work for people who want to travel during the daytime.
Note: There is an afternoon SGR Link train for passengers traveling to Mombasa with Madaraka Express Train.
Speed: On occasions when there is no traffic on the roads, the trains are slower compared to Matatus and personal cars.
Convenience: The trains do not run on weekends and public holidays. Also, unlike with Matatus, the drop off points might be an inconvenience to people who live far from the railway stations.
Update: The old passenger coaches have been replaced with newly renovated ones.
Nairobi Commuter Trains, Routes, and Services
Below are the available Nairobi commuter train routes and stops;
1. Kikuyu Buffalo: The 5:35 pm to Kikuyu town
- Nairobi – Kibera –Dagoretti – Kikuyu
2. The Ruiru Eagle: The 5:30 pm to Ruiru
- Nairobi – Makadara – Umoja – Dandora – Githurai – Kahawa – Ruiru
3. The SGR Link Train: The Link to Madaraka Express
- Nairobi – Nairobi SGR Terminus – Syokimau
4. The Commuter to Embakasi Village
- Nairobi – Makadara – Donholm – Pipeline – Embakasi Village
5. The Daily Commuter to Syokimau Station
- Nairobi – Imara Daima – Syokimau
Update: There is a new daily commuter train between Nairobi SGR Terminus and Ngong via Ongata Rongai.