President of Kenya Uhuru Kenyatta has commissioned a 472.3km Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) service, which will run from Nairobi to Mombasa.
The new service will replace the existing old meter gauge railway, which was constructed nearly 100 years ago during the British colonial period, reported Xinhua.
Previously, the unavailability of a modern rail system between these two cities had put enormous pressure on the highway from Mombasa to Nairobi, resulting in increasing delays and rising costs in passenger movement and cargo transport.
The passenger train that will run between Nairobi and Mombasa has been named the Madaraka Express, and will be equipped with seating arrangements for to 960 passengers.
Speaking at the inauguration, President Kenyatta said: “This is a historic day and it is a day that everyone of us should feel proud to be a Kenyan.
“Today, despite criticism and opposition, we have launched the Madaraka Express to reshape the story of Kenya for the next 100 years.”
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Construction on the SGR project began on 28 November 2013 and was originally slated for completion in five years. However, the project has been completed ahead of its schedule.
The new SGR line is expected to reduce the travel time between Mombasa and Nairobi from an average of nine to ten hour journey by bus to roughly four or five hours by train. It will also reduce the cost of cargo transportation between the two cities.
The President boarded the passenger train's maiden journey and was accompanied by Deputy President William Ruto, First Lady Margaret Kenyatta and several other dignitaries.
President Kenyatta also later launched the cargo services in a ceremony held at Mombasa.
The introduction of the SGR services is expected to transform the country’s economy and facilitate greater industrialisation across Kenya.
China Road and Bridge was responsible for the construction of this $3.8bn project, with approximately 90% of the total funding coming from China.