One of the oldest railways in Africa, dubbed The Lunatic Express, could soon be modernized.

The Kenyan government and a group of consultants from the public and private sectors have drawn up plans to replace the century-old Kenya-Uganda narrow gauge rail system running from Mombasa on the Indian Ocean coast to Kampala on Lake Victoria with a standard gauge.

It currently takes passengers over 12 hours to travel the 550 km from Nairobi to Mombasa, while goods take even longer.

Under the standard gauge, which is used in most countries worldwide, the rail service will be more efficient, reliable and faster.

The plan also includes creating a new line from the port of Lamu, also on the Indian Ocean coast, through northern Kenya, to Juba in Southern Sudan, while another line will connect it to Addis Ababa in Ethiopia to the north.

However the project still awaits approval from the cabinet before it can be taken to parliament for endorsement, paving the way for funding and implementation.

The Kenya-Uganda railway is jointly owned by the Kenyan and Ugandan governments and run by a South African consortium, Rift Valley Railways, under a 25-year concession.