Uganda Railways to add three new passenger train routes

Uganda Railways Corporation currently operates a single passenger train route from Kampala to Namanve. Photo / Edgar R Batte 

What you need to know:

  • Currently Uganda Railways Corporation operates a single passenger train route from Kampala to Namanve 

Uganda Railways Corporation (URC) has said its expansion drive to rehabilitate railway routes in the Kampala Metropolitan will add 300 city passengers on a daily basis. 

Ms Jessica Bakabazira, the URC chief commercial officer, said the expansion plan is meant to extend passenger services to Mukono, Kyengera and Port Bell areas. 

“This will involve the construction of concrete sleeper lines to those areas and procurement of Diesel Multiple Units. We shall also have more coaches procured to serve these areas,” she said, noting that the first phase of constructing and renovating the new routes will commence next month (April) starting with the Kampala- Mukono line, during which passenger service will be transferred to the Kampala-Port Bell route. 

Current data from Uganda Railways Corporation indicates that the passenger train services, which covers the Kampala-Namanve route has an average capacity of 1,500 passengers in five train coaches at an interval of 45 minutes, including the return trip on a daily basis. 

Passengers using the train coaches pay Shs1,000 on each trip with boarding stations in Kampala, Kireka, Namanve, Bweyogere, and Namboole. 

Ms Bakabazira was speaking at the launch of a pilot project dubbed, Tutambule Ffena which is aimed at offering passengers the much needed first and last mile to and from the train at specified terminals including, Kampala, Namboole and Namanve stations. 

The pilot project will allow passengers to purchase train tickets through SafeBoda and Easy Matatu apps. 

Passengers will also have an opportunity to access information on planned train schedules and unprecedented delays in scheduling, among others. 

Mr Andrew Lema, the Easy Matatu founder, said this will address the issue of high costs of long distance trips, long duration spent in transit and limited access to digital payment methods.  

“We have mapped 11 routes for the working class commuters using clean transport. We understand most public transport [systems] in Africa are broken. That is why we are using a blended approach with different mobility partners in harnessing transport using technology,” he said. 

Ms Catherine Tulina Kafumbe, the SafeBoda deputy country director, said the SafeBoda app will take care of the passenger’s first mile and last mile travels to and from the railway station, and to their places of aboard. 

Uganda’s railway system has suffered under years of neglect with the largest portion of the network totally broken down. 

However, government has recently revived that talk of refurbishing the network and donors are beginning to show willingness to fund the refurbishment. 

Secured funding

In August 2020, URC said government had secured funding from the Spanish government and African Development Bank to a tune of €330m to revamp the Meter Gauge Railway by rehabilitating about 250 kilometers from Malaba- Kampala.

The funding particularly from the AfDB will involve refurbishing the Namanve-Tororo, Port Bell line, Jinja Pier and Kampala-Kyengera railway line. 

This will also include the construction of passenger halts and hubs and railway reserve fencing. 

Ministry of Transport in December said construction of a factory for manufacturing concrete sleepers for refurbishment works on Mukono-Kampala railway line (25km) had commenced. 

This is being undertaken by Imathia, a Spanish company that was awarded the contract for the rehabilitation of the Railway line.