Buxton tunnel in Limuru, Kiambu County has gone from being an iconic piece of the ‘Lunatic Express’ railway line, to a dreaded hide-out for all sorts of thieves and criminals and now, an eerie tourist attraction which some claim is ‘haunted’.
The train tunnel stretches an estimated 1.7 kilometres, and attracts adventure-seekers from around the country and beyond.
Standing at the entrance, a small light can be seen emanating from the end of the tunnel, bringing the figure of speech to life. Few visitors, however, venture 50-100 metres into the tunnel.
Those who want to cover the entire distance to emerge on the other side are even offered police protection despite a serious crackdown by security officers in the area years ago having eliminated many of the criminals that had made the tunnel their playground.
The entrance to Buxton Tunnel pictured in Limuru, Kiambu County
The walls of the tunnel feature several markings from past visitors who carve out various messages.
The tunnel is still regularly used by cargo trains transporting goods on the metre-gauge railway from Nairobi to Malaba.
A number of tour companies offer special tours through the tunnel, promising visitors the chance to ‘face their fears’.
The tunnel was built in the 1940s by the British colonial administration as part of the ‘Lunatic Express’ line and was the longest train tunnel up until the completion of the 7.14-kilometer SGR Ngong Tunnel in 2018.
The Ngong Tunnel built by the China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) also became the second-longest rail tunnel in Africa.
The tunnel project which is funded by the Exim Bank of China cost Ksh150 million.
It is part of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) stretch from the Em-Bulbul SGR tunnel in Kajiado County which joins the Ngong Tunnel to complete part of the second phase of the SGR project.
The honour of the longest train tunnel on the continent belongs to the 13.6-kilometre Hex River tunnel in South Africa.
Watch a video capturing a bit of the tunnel below: