Port Bell is named after Henry Hesketh Bell, a British commissioner, who took over administration of Britain’s interests in Uganda in 1906. Its rail link is a branch line from the Kampala-Jinja main line.

Lake Victoria ferries operate from Port Bell linking Kampala to other rail head ports on Lake Victoria including Jinja, Kisumu, Musoma, and Mwanza. When the first stage of the Uganda Railway was completed in 1901, the rail head was at Kisumu, 12 hours journey from Port Bell by ship. Ferries brought goods by lake between Port Bell and Kisumu. It was not until 1931 that the main line of the railway from Nakuru reached Kampala and then Port Bell