The state-owned railway company Kenya Railways is moving ahead with plans to build a new standard gauge railway between the port city of Mombasa and the Ugandan capital Kampala alongside the existing narrow gauge railway that travels the same route. The aim is to improve passenger and freight rail services between the Indian Ocean and the Great Lakes region as part of efforts to increase regional trade.

On 17 May Reuters news agency reported that the Kenyan railway company is inviting fresh bids for the preliminary design and environmental and social assessment services for the 2,156 km section of the railway running between Mombasa and Malaba on the Kenya-Uganda border. The original tender process was called off earlier this year after it emerged that the railway company had underestimated its budget. If all goes to plan, the new bids will be opened on 25 June. The Ugandan government will be in charge of tendering separately for its section of the railway.

The existing Kenya-Uganda railway is run by Rift Valley Railways, a South African-led consortium, under a 25-year management agreement signed in 2006 and which involved improvements to infrastructure and services on the 100-year-old line. However these have never materialised and as a result currently only six per cent of the goods handled each year by the port of Mombasa are transported by rail, with almost all the rest travelling by road.

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