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High-speed rail replaces Kenyan 'Lunatic Line'

Madaraka Express track

A 480km high-speed rail line has opened in East Africa 18 months ahead of schedule, connecting the Kenyan capital Nairobi with the port of Mombasa.

The standard gauge railway line, said to cost £2.9bn, was built by the China Road and Bridge Corporation. Construction for the line has taken two and a half years, quicker than the five years estimated.

The line will eventually connect Kenya with other East African countries including Rwanda and South Sudan. It will cut journey times from 10 hours to around 4 hours, reducing freight costs in the region.

Named the Madaraka Express, the railway replaces the Victorian era, British-built line widely known as the Lunatic Line due to its high costs and fatality rate during construction. It runs through Uganda and Kenya.

Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta called the China Exim Bank-funded line a milestone in the country’s transition to a middle-income economy.

“I am proud to be associated with this achievement. We have started the journey,” he said.

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