Kenya Railways

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Kenya Railways Corporation
Basic information
Company headquarters Nairobi
Web presence Kenya Railways
owner Kenyan state
Board A. Hariz
Employee 14,000 (2001)
Gauge 1000 mm ( meter gauge )
Length of line network
Railway lines 1 920  km

Kenya Railways Corporation ( KRC ), also Kenya Railways ( KR ), is the state-owned railway company of Kenya . The state-owned company was founded in 1977. From the end of 2006 to mid-2017, operations were ensured by the Rift Valley Railways Consortium (RVRC) from South Africa .


The company, originally operating as the Uganda Railway , changed into the East African Railways and Harbors Corporation (EARC) after the First World War . This company ran the business operations of the railways in Uganda , Kenya and Tanganyika until the collapse of the East African Community in 1977. KR became the legal successor of the EARC on Kenyan territory.

It started out under the name of the OAEG in 1896. The first track was laid from Mombasa on May 30, 1896. This is where the so-called Lunatic Line began , best translated as "the nightmare line", the name of which is derived from a satirical poem by Henry du Pré Labouchère , a rebellious British MP who viewed railway construction as a particularly dangerous undertaking.

Groomed Tsavo Lions in the Field Museum of Natural History , Chicago

The construction of the route was very arduous because first a waterless semi-desert Taru Plain had to be crossed. In 1898 the route reached the Tsavo River . The first crossing of the river was done with a temporary yoke bridge , which allowed the construction of the route to continue while the stone bridge was being built. The construction of this bridge was directed by Captain, later Lt. Colonel and engineer John Henry Patterson . The construction of this bridge was severely affected by the aggressiveness of some lions and even brought to a standstill. For a more detailed description of these occurrences see The cannibals of Tsavo . Two of the stuffed lions are now in the Field Museum in Chicago.

There were other deaths from predators: In 1899, road engineer O'Hara was dragged from his tent near Voi by a lion and killed. A year later, on June 6, 1900, the police superintendent Ryall was pulled out of a room window of the observation station by a lion in his sleep at Kima station , killed and dragged into the bush. Two other men in the station narrowly escaped.

After 500 kilometers, the line reached the Athi plateau and thus the foot of the Kenya Highlands , an area with a boggy subsoil, which the Maasai people called Nyrobi . The main depot of the route was set up here. The managers and their employees were relocated here from Mombasa. This caused a large influx of mainly Asian craftsmen who offered their skills. In addition, the colonial administration decided to relocate their headquarters from nearby Machakos, a settlement on the existing railway line. In 1900 the spelling changed in Nairobi; a new capital was born.

Halfway between Nairobi and Lake Victoria is the natural wonder of the Rift Valley , which has a 450 m high cliff from the river bed to the highlands. In order to accelerate the construction of the route, the steepest section over 210 meters in altitude and an angle of 50 degrees was overcome with the help of a cable car . As a counterweight, freight wagons loaded with rock rubble were used. Parts of this rubble can still be seen today. So you reached the bottom of the valley while the actual route was still being built.

The original plan to connect the port city of Mombasa with the capital of Uganda, Kampala , was only hesitantly pursued by the British government, although the route test had already been completed. They were still looking for a more cost-effective connection solution. Therefore, initially only the shortest connection to Lake Victoria, to Port Florence , was built from Nakuru . So in 1901 you reached the northeast corner of Lake Victoria in the city then renamed Kisumu .

Further construction towards Kampala was delayed by the First World War. It wasn't until 1931 that the city was finally reached.

The civil war-like unrest in 2007-2008 led to a transport stop between Kenya and Uganda, as the railway tracks were partially destroyed.

For a long time, the KR was operated under inefficient management, an inflated workforce and long-loss-making business areas. Therefore there were plans of privatization and revitalization similar to those of Tanzania Railways . In 2005, the Rift Valley Railways Consortium (RVRC) from South Africa won the concession tenders to operate the KR and Uganda Railways . RVRC should start operations on August 1, 2006 and make major investments, which would also have involved a reduction in the workforce. On July 28, 2006, the daily East African Standard reported that the takeover had been postponed to November 1, 2006. The takeover of the operative business finally took place in November and was fixed for 25 years. In 2017, Kenya Railways prematurely terminated the contract with RVRC due to ineffectiveness and lack of payments, so that KRC has been operating again since then.

Driving operation

The KR is - like the railway lines in neighboring countries - built in meter gauge. The reason lies in the close connection that the colonial rulers of the time, the British, established with the construction of railways in India . This made it easier to optimize operations in the construction of materials and the exchange of skilled workers. Over time, many were spurs built, such as the turnoff to Lake Magadi (1915) and Voi to Moshi in today's Tanzania (1924). The total length of the network is now approx. 2778 km.

Much of the rail system is badly shabby and in need of repair. Nevertheless, the main line Mombasa – Kisumu is regularly served. In long-distance traffic, the Jumbo Kenya Deluxe Express provided a night jump connection between Nairobi and Mombasa in around fourteen hours three times a week until April 2017 . The Port Florence Express runs between Nairobi and Kisumu .

KR also operates passenger ships on Lake Victoria.


Since her state visit to Kenya in 1983, Queen Elizabeth II has had a lifelong personal network card for the Kenya Railways.

See also

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Staff members
  2. History of EARC - Nairobi Railway Museum
  3. Tabu Butagira (Kampala): Kenya: Railway Suspends Goods Shipment to Uganda , from January 21, 2008 (English)
  4. ^ Deficit operation
  5. Privatization plans (PDF file; 130 kB)
  6. RVRC wins concession in 2005
  7. RVRC's management starts August 1, 2006
  8. ^ Postponed Takeover , accessed July 31, 2006
  9. ^ SA Firm gets 'Lunatic Express' railway. ( Memento of the original from June 17, 2007 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. , accessed December 18, 2006 @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  10. ^ RVR's 25 years deal to run rail line is terminated., April 5, 2014, accessed July 8, 2018
  11. Status report 2001
  12. timetable tables (English)
  13. Patrick Kingston: Royal Trains . London 1985. ISBN 0-7153-8594-1 , p. 117.

Web links