Kenya has invited bids for the preliminary design of its proposed joint venture railway with Uganda.

The high-capacity standard gauge railway line will connect Mombasa with Malaba, linking Kenya’s Western border with Uganda, with a branch line to Kisumu.

The project’s MOU is ready and nearly $40m is available for the design of the wider gauge system for 24-hour operation, according to Kenyan officials.

Construction on the Kenyan side of the rail line is scheduled to begin in May 2011, reaching Nairobi in 2013, followed by Kisumu and Malaba in 2016.

The plan involves running a double-decker train on a standard (1,435mm) gauge track, featuring 160km/h passenger train speeds and 120km/h freight speeds, with a capacity of 4,000t on a single and double-track line.