The president of Kenya has called the opening of a new standard gauge railway a milestone moment for the country.
Kenya was previously served by the Uganda Railway, a line built at the beginning of the 20th century that had fallen into a state of disrepair.
President Uhuru Kenyatta committed to building a new line, which begun in November, 2013, with a groundbreaking ceremony, and set a five year timeline for its competition.
Eighteen months earlier than anticipated, the inaugural service left Mombassa marking the project’s completion.
Beginning in Mombasa and ending in Nairobi, the Sh320 billion (around €2.8 billion) Madaraka Express was largely backed by Chinese investment, built by China Communication Construction Company and will run using CRRC rolling stock.
Trains will travel at a maximum speed of 120km/h on the 472km line meaning passengers can travel between the two cities in four hours, whereas the same journey on a bus can take 10 hours. The line will also reduce the cost of moving goods because of the decreased journey time.
President Uhuru Kenyatta said that he expected to see jobs generated, industrial areas and towns to be created and expanded along the line.
He added: “Today will be marked as a great day in the history of our Republic. This inaugural journey on our new Madaraka Express marks a transformative moment for Kenya, and for Africa.
“Change is here. Already, the Madaraka Express has employed tens of thousands of Kenyans, it has stimulated our economy and built wealth here at home.
“Large and vibrant towns will grow along its length, new factories and hotels, and service businesses will employ hundreds of thousands of young people. Farmers will earn more as their produce makes its way to buyers faster and cheaper.
“This train will change the lives of all Kenyans because it will reduce the cost of transporting goods and passengers.
“We Kenyans will prosper alongside our neighbours, and peace and stability will be one of the fruits we shall reap together.”