UK Firm Unveils Design of Nairobi Railway Station

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Nairobi’s new Central Train Station
An impression of the Nairobi’s new Central Train Station. PHOTO | COURTESY

UK design company Atkins Global has unveiled the final design of the proposed Nairobi Central Railway Station, in a move that has pushed forward the much-delayed project.

Atkins was commissioned by the Kenyan government to design the Rail Transit System (RTS) for the Nairobi Railway City. The scope of work involved the design of the railway station and associated public grounds – which would provide the masterplan for the development.

The RTS project was initiated by President Uhuru Kenyatta who requested UK’s support when he met Prime Minister Boris Johnson in London in Jan. 2020.

On Thursday, the final design of the station was unveiled in Nairobi in an event graced by Jonathan Black, the deputy national security advisor to the UK Prime Minister.

Mr Black termed the project “a reflection of the growing strength of the UK’s infrastructure offer to Kenya, and our commitment to delivering sustainable infrastructure investment”.

The RTS contract is the first major local deal for Atkins, which acquired Kenyan engineering company Howard Humphreys East Africa in March 2016 in a strategy aimed at making Nairobi its African hub for property, energy and infrastructure deals.

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The unveiling of the final design now gives the much-delayed Nairobi Railway City project some momentum, with phase one of the project scheduled to begin in July.

The budget for phase one is estimated at Sh28.7 billion. This phase will involve setting up the inter connectivity between the current railway station and outlying facilities.

The development will be fully funded in a Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) deal with the UK Export Finance through collaboration with the Railway City Development Authority, Kenya Railways Corporation, and the Nairobi Metropolitan Services.

“We are in the process of finalising the MoU and around July we will be hitting the ground,” Joseph Njoroge, principal secretary of the State Department of Transport said.

425 acres

The project involves construction of a 425-acre urban development on the area between Haile Sellasie Avenue, Uhuru Highway and Bunyala Road – comprising transit stations, residential and commercial buildings among other features.

The Nairobi Railway City, which is part of the Nairobi Integrated Urban Development Plan, will take up 292 acres of land currently serving as the Nairobi Railway Station.

The proposed development site sits on the Nairobi Central Railway Station, the marshalling yard and the Kenya Railways Pension Scheme Land, commonly known as Landimawe.

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It stretches to the locomotive and wagons workshops and the section of Nairobi’s Industrial Area that edges the southern boundary of the Nairobi Railway Station.

The project will be implemented in phases for 20 years, with the first phase due for development between 2022 and 2030.

Phase one of the project includes the Central Railway Station and a commercial complex with two towers of 5,000 square metres each. It will also have 700 residential units, 70% of which will be affordable houses with the rest being high-end homes.

Details of how the investors will make money are yet to be made public, but there are reports that social houses have been primed as a key revenue stream for investors, which implies the amenities will be rented out for tens of years.