Gallery - British East Africa

The Lunatic Line

As every year, this time it was again no exception and a trip to conquer a world-known summit had been planned. The choice was Kilimanjaro. The goal was as usual – get to the summit, look around the country, visit a few cities and at the end relax on the beach.

Despite Kilimanjaro being in Tanzania it showed to be easier to start the trip in Kenya (better connection, good acclimatization at Mt. Kenya and other features – safari, beach, etc.). As a bonus of being in Kenya a train could be used as a means of transport.

At this article I would like to introduce the Kenyan railway network as we experienced during our trip in summer 2011. Of course, a few pictures are attached (I apologize for the quality but the camera was not the best one and my skills are not either. Finally the conditions were not always ideal. There is some info about the price and quality and a few tips for anybody who wants to go. If you have any questions just drop me an email and I will try to advise/help as far as I can remember. Some of the text is copied from the internet. I do admit that I am too lazy to rewrite stuff that is generally available. Where possible the reference is stated.

The East Africa Railway Company

Tad musim popsat tu lajnu!!!

Going to Kisumu

Or what used to be called Port Florence. This was our first railway journey here in Kenya and it came to no surprise it started with a major problem. This line Nairobi-Kisumu is not so popular very with the tourist. Basically Kisumu is a very small town on the ban of Lake Victoria and there isn’t much to do. Going to Nakuru (half way through) does not make much sense as the train arrives there in the midnight and if nothing that is quite dangerous. The popularity is also reflected in the train consist. Just one 1st class and one 2nd class coach in the train. The rest is all 3rd class. There is one dinning coach and one or two power-generating coaches at the end.

There was no rush so I bought the tickets just a day in advance. We were four so I booked 2nd class. The difference between fist and second is two or four beds in the compartment and the option to have dinner or not. For the first class the dinner is mandatory and is included in the ticket. In the second class it comes as an option. They asked me for my phone number which actually proved to be a good idea. The next day when we were supposed to leave, the railway company called me (even on my German number) that there a derailment near Nairobi and the train has not made it all the way back but on the journey from Kisumu it finished in Limuru - approximately 40 km north from Nairobi. And this is also the station from where it will leave for Kisumu tonight. It was a bit difficult to understand what they actually meant so a quit visit to the Nairobi railway station clarified what was going on. Yes, the train was to be dispatched from Limuru at a normal scheduled time. OK it leaved with 2 hours delay but it was accepted as standard, we are in Africa.

After buying the ticket at Nairobi station I did have a look at the station from a pedestrian bridge located on the west side of the station. A few pictures also showing the train to Kisumu…or at least the train that looks the same as the train to Kisumu. This brings up the question how did it go to Limuru or to Kisumu and back to Lilmuru if we were supposed to travel o nit the next day? Or do they have two such trains? I asked exactly about what sort of accident they had but there is no chance to get a clear answer anywhere in Kenya.

And the pictures:

The train

I have not made too many notes and pictures from the train so I apologize if some info is wrong. Some pictures are not good as we were scheduled to leave after 19:00 and it was already dark.

As stated above the train consist was as follows: one coach second class, one coach first class behind the loco, followed a dinning coach; four coaches of the 3rd class and  two power-generating coaches at the end. We were the only white people in the train but still the first as well as the second class was about 75% full. There weren’t many people in the 3rd class in the evening (traveling overnight) but the morning “peak time” made the 3rd class completely stuffed. So no chance to look though the train. The locomotive was English Electric 87 class diesel electric locomotives

“The Kenyan class 87 were first delivered to the East African Railways & Harbours in 1960. Powered by the well known English Electric 12CSVT engine the first ten of these powerful locomotives were built in the Robert Stephenson & Hawthorn works at Darlington; later examples were from Vulcan Foundry” [1]