Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni’s plan to take a train journey of about 480km (298 miles) from Kenya’s coastal city of Mombasa to the capital, Nairobi, is of huge significance.
It is seen as a major endorsement in the push for Kenya and Uganda to build a seamless Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) through Kenya’s western border to Uganda’s capital, Kampala.
Financing for the Uganda segment of the SGR hinges on Kenya completing its line to Malaba, a western town on the border with Uganda.
In the past Kenya has indicated that it preferred building a line further south of this route to its inland port city of Kisumu to transport goods through Lake Victoria to ports in Mwanza in Tanzania, and Entebbe, Port Bell and Jinja in Uganda.
Uganda’s first phase of SGR, the eastern line running from Malaba to Kampala, is about 273km and is expected to cost about $2.3bn (£1.75bn).
Kenya is already extending the line from Nairobi to a designated inland dry port in Naivasha with $1.5bn in financing from China.
The first phase of the SGR project from Mombasa to Nairobi cost $3.2bn and repayment of this cash is the top priority for the Kenya government, and it also wants to focus on the construction of the most financially viable route into Uganda.